‘Happiness has become generic; Domino’s had to move to relationships’

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Harneet Singh Rajpal, VP-Marketing, Domino's Pizza India

Harneet Singh Rajpal, VP-Marketing, Domino’s Pizza India

From ‘Hungry Kya?’ to ’30 minutes or free’ and later on to ‘Khushiyon Ki Home Delivery’, Domino’s Pizza has come a long way in the 17 years of its existence in the Indian market. It has subsequently evolved from a functional to an emotional brand. To assert this transformation in its brand identity and sustain high value equity, it recently adopted a new positioning to connect deeper with the consumer. The new tagline of the brand now stands as ‘Yeh Hai Rishton Ka Time’. In an exclusive interview with Pitch Harneet Singh Rajpal, Vice President – Marketing, Domino’s Pizza India, shares more on the changed positioning, consumer insight and future plans. Excerpts…

How has Domino’s evolved in terms of positioning since it entered the Indian market?
We started our journey in India in 1996 with our first store in GK I, New Delhi. Until then the concept of organised pizza retail was not there in India. Therefore, the first task for us was to educate people about pizzas and how it sold the world over. What helped was that we used ingredients that were from the Indian staple diet. So the acceptability on the product side was becoming very fast and we came up with the ‘Hungry Kya?’ positioning. It was all about telling the consumers that, if you are hungry we have a solution for your hunger. That is how ‘Hungry Kya?’ worked because we positioned ourselves as a meal replacement category.

In 2003, we thought of introducing the global USP of the brand, which is home delivery and that was an untapped marketing concept in India. So we had a choice to make a brand film on home delivery or bring in that tactical approach so that consumers would try it. Hence, we started the 30 minutes or free campaign. We gave consumers the advantage to penalize us if we did not honour the time. What happened was that people started experiencing the convenience of home delivery, which soon became popular in India. This was till 2008, where we were present with our ‘Hungry Kya?’ functional positioning and built upon our delivery promise.

In 2008 we decided to create an emotional bond with the TG and came up with ‘Happiness Home Delivered’ or ‘Khushiyon Ki Home Delivery’.

So, what’s the reason for the current change in positioning?
We have seen a tremendous growth since the last four years, if you see our system of growth the CAGR has been 48 per cent and the sales stores has seen a CAGR of 22 per cent. But what we realised last year is that ‘Khushiyaan’ or ‘Happiness’ as a term is very generic. There are 30 plus brands in the country which have used it. We thought that ‘Happiness Home Delivered’ was becoming a bit defused and hence, we went deeper in understanding how important relationships were to people, especially when they shared food. Thus, we came out with the new positioning, ‘Yeh Hai Rishton Ka Time’.

Has that affected the packaging too?
The packaging has not changed for the last 10-12 years, we have retained our logo, but since the new positioning has changed we thought we will change the packaging too. We have given our pizza boxes a new look, which reflects the change in positioning. With boxes the look and feel of the stores is also going to change over time. They will have new graphics and communication lines, exemplifying the soul of the new positioning.

What all is Domino’s doing in terms of promotion?
Apart from promotions on Facebook and Twitter, we have a new website for ‘yeh hai rishton ka time’ and there is a new TVC for the same. We are also focusing on outdoor in eight to 10 cities. We are investing in billboards, hoardings, banners at key locations where there is maximum traffic and large catchment areas for our delivery stores. We are creating special brand door hangars and brand flyers which we usually don’t do, and that will replace our print advertising.

Has Domino’s maintained its brand essence with changing positions?
We have maintained the core of the brand, which is the promise of shared joy since this is majorly a group consumption meal.

With this new positioning are you trying to touch upon a different TG?
We have a very broad consumption category that spans from a 10 year old to a TG of 40-45 year olds. We do not define our TG demographically and it remains the same. What has happened is that the segment that consumes our pizza has increased but not the TG. And we are trying to create stronger bonds with the consumer.

What is your take on brands taking the emotional route such as Coke’s ‘Open Happiness’ positioning?
Four years back, when we had ‘Khushiyon Ki Home Delivery’ as our focus, there was only a handful of brands that had happiness as their positioning. Today there are 30-32 brands across different categories that have a similar positioning including Coke. What is happening is that brands globally as well as in India are realising, that to connect with the consumer at an emotional level, has a longer lasting relationship with the consumer. But if you talk about ‘rishtey’, it is a deeper level of connection and a very few brands are using it. Again this is a space where there are different aspects of bonding. What we do as a brand is to create that bond in the food space. Therefore, there is no other food brand in India that is giving time to relationships. We are most suitable to take up the positioning in the QSR category because our product is about group consumption. We are now established in 110 cities across 500 stores.

What are your future plans?
Stage one is already over with the launch of the TVC and website. Stage two includes lots of activations on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Packages and boxes will hit the stores in the next one week; outdoor campaigns will also start then. A lot of stuff will be done around the Domino’s delivery boxes and around the delivery bikes, among other things.

Has there been any increase in marketing spends too?
We invest 4-5 per cent of our revenue in marketing and our business has been growing at a 48 per cent CAGR for the last five years. So, in absolute terms we are investing a lot of money in our marketing year-on-year.

What challenges did you face with the changes that took place over these years?
It is not only about positioning but the stage that we were in the last 17 years of our journey. When we entered India people did not know pizza so that was the challenge about awareness of the product. The global positioning of 30 minutes or free was another challenge as it was a task to create the concept of home delivery from scratch. In 2008, when we positioned ourselves as an emotional brand, the language that we spoke became the challenge. The challenge was how to change the functional product to an emotional one without any discontinuity to the running of the business. At this point of time since we are already established as an emotional brand; the challenge is how to map our emotional insights and hence, strongly associate with consumers. So the task is to find stories that are relevant to the brand and with those stories we focus more on our consumers.

Are there any new products that you have launched that complement the new positioning?
We have launched a new product this week called Taco Indiana. We have taken the Mexican Taco format and tweaked it to suit the Indian taste palate. It is supposed to be complimentary to the communication that we run about our new positioning. Therefore, there are two campaigns that we will run, one is a brand film of ‘yeh hai riston ka time’ and the other will be on Taco Indiana, which will reflect the brand’s core positioning.

What are your expectations from the efforts?
We believe that we will have a good mix of messages required to convey the change, which will give a reason for the consumer to come back to us for new offerings. This will lead to brand traction and equity that will help us to the reach the next level of growth in the country.

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