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Arvind Nair

CEO | 19 Aug 2002

"We are both clear and consistent in our positioning. The tagline is "Hungry Kya" and the business model is delivering hot n fresh pizza in 30 minutes, guaranteed. We have no plans to change this successful positioning in the Indian market."

Indian palate is difficult to satisfy. Local cuisine, 'ma ka hath', and shop-next-door make it tougher. After making the American's slurp, Italian Pizzas are now gunning to find Indian favor. Armed with 'efficient supply chain', global learnings and multi-million dollar marketing budgets. How has their experience been and where are they headed. We spoke with the Hungry Kya, man himself - Arvind Nair, CEO, Domino's Pizza to share with us his experience. Nair, an IIM graduate, started his career 21 years ago with Garware Nylons. His earlier stints before joining Domino's Pizza include Aptech Internet, Asian Paints and Berger Paints In this Brand Speak with Neha Pant of exchange4media, he talks about Domino's marketing strategy and the plans to expand the market for the same.

Q. How is Domino's Pizza positioned vis-à-vis your competition?

Domino's Pizza, the world over, is known as a leading provider of freshly baked pizzas topped with quality ingredients and cheese. Domino's is positioned as global 'Pizza delivery expert'. It was the first pizza chain in the world committed to the promise of delivering pizzas in 30 minutes or less. Domino's, which entered India in 1996, with its first outlet in Delhi, has grown into over 90 outlets spread across 24 cities. In India, the majority of Domino's outlets are delivery-based with only about 25% of the outlets being both delivery and "sit-down". This is quite different from other retail food chains.

Q. Domino's has come out with products like Hot Sams & deserts. After the initial hype, the interest in these products seems to have waned. What is the reason?

Our consumer research showed an inclination for lighter "in-between meals"- something lighter than a pizza and in the nature of a snack, ideally consumed in the afternoons between 3 to 6. That is why we had the "Hot Sams" and desserts, but also to act as accessories to the main offering - the Domino's Pizza. We have since withdrawn the Hot Sam product because we found it did not travel as well as our pizzas.

Q. How is the fast food category and its communication different from other categories?

Communication is very important, particularly when it is two-way. We value customer feedback and Domino's is most responsive to customer preferences. Fast food ought to be a fun experience and this is not possible unless the provider and the consumer are in synch. We are in the service business, and our product is positioned as a convenience food delivered to the customer hot and fresh in 30 minutes guaranteed.

Q. Is Dominos also planning its operations in new cities? What is the marketing strategy for smaller towns?

We follow customer demand and are very focussed on localised service. This results in more outlets being opened in places where our surveys indicate a maximum "pull". We find this a more effective way to grow having been in the market nearly six years now. This sometimes results in several outlets in a given city and perhaps only one in another. Our growth plans are also closely connected with our refrigerated food chain because it requires us to cluster our outlets so that every pizza is of the same international quality wherever it is bought or delivered. So are quite open to development in metros as well as smaller towns as long as the expansion falls in with this principle. The customer comes first.

Q. As per your marketing strategy, who is your target audience?

Young people, families, office-goers, anyone who wants to take a break from what they eat every day or from cooking. In other words, anyone looking for a wholesome & fun filled meal is our target customer and especially the people in the age group 16 to 35. Another 'live' category is the traveller or commuter keen on eating a satisfying meal of the best international quality when he is in a relative hurry.

Q. How importantly do you think teenagers' tastes influence your strategy and various flavours? Are you working on any strategy to attract kids?

Teenagers are our natural audience - absolutely top of the pops for us! We are constantly devising new options to retain their interest not just in India but throughout our 7,000 odd stores all over the world. While introducing every new flavour, we essentially study local popular tastes and demand and the preferences of our young friends in particular. Thereafter, the process is very rigorous. We execute it in phases - for instance, we have a team of nutritionists who come up with a product offering after studying the market. Then, we send it in for an internal Panel Approval. If it passes through our internal " tasters" and "assessors", we send it in to the Domino's International product development people, who examine the new proposition intensively in terms of food quality, ingredients, whether it conforms to the "defining standards" and so on. Creating a Domino's flavour therefore is quite an arduous process. As regards initiatives aimed at children, Domino's Pizza, in association with Cartoon Network, are right now in the midst of organising the biggest Talent Hunt contest. For teenagers, we regularly celebrate anniversaries of our outlets by offering them anniversary discounts. In fact, this has been incorporated as a permanent feature in our strategy. For the in-betweens, our local stores across the country conduct informative and interactive Student Educational Tours (SET) for school children aged between 8-16 years in which we give them a guided tour of our outlets with lots of pizzas thrown in of course!

Q. Are you planning to come out with any more advertising campaigns? If yes, what will be the theme for the same? Are you planning for any re-positioning of the same?

Recently during the FIFA World Cup we made a comeback on air by launching a series of new advertisement on Ten Sports. This campaign is a new one but is based on the well-known theme of "Hungry Kya", which has, over the period of time, become synonymous with the Domino's brand. We are both clear and consistent in our positioning. The tagline is "Hungry Kya" and the business model is delivery hot n fresh pizza in 30 minutes guaranteed. We have no plans to change this successful positioning in the Indian market.

Q. Though initially, you started as take-away, now a few outlets also have restaurant. Why? Are you planning to venture into an extension of the existing take away outlets to include restaurants to fight competition who is eating into your market share?

In India, 75% of our outlets are delivery only and take-away though the rest offer both deliveries and take-away/dine-in facilities. The " sit-down" outlets, though in a minority, have been created in response to localised customer demand. This is our basic mantra. We like to please the customer. Generally however, in India and internationally, our delivery business model continues to serve us well.

Q. What is the marketing strategy you have adapted to your brand? What are the promotional activities you have been doing? And how successful these activities have been?

As part of our marketing strategy, we are constantly striving to make Domino's an integral part of the lives of our target audiences. We believe in getting involved with the clientele at the emotional level and building long-term relationship with them. Thus, we concentrate more on carrying out below-the-line activities in the area we serve. We undertake local store marketing initiatives. These include special discounts to loyal customers and parade like activities such as Motorbike formations, distributing special offer coupons and phone calls to frequent customers.

Q. Given the Indian appetite for Value for money, don't you think a Pizza is priced expensively? A quality burger is available for Rs.40-60. How are you planning to broad base your market?

Our base price is very affordable and our regular customers take advantage of a constant stream of promotions that make the Domino's value proposition very compelling. Our pizzas are priced in the range of Rs. 59 to Rs. 388 depending upon the size and the variety. Also, our sizing in 8", to 14" offers a large number of options to choose. This economizes on the total spend and works out to Rs. 50 per head inclusive of hot-n-fresh 30 minutes guaranteed delivery. This kind of value is very hard to come by at comparable quality levels!

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