How Domino’s bakes innovation into its brand

NRF Nexus: Delivering next-generation experiences to consumers

Remember the old days of ordering a pizza? You’d call the pizza place from a landline, place an order for delivery, and then wait for the pizza to arrive at some point.

Then came the Domino’s Pizza tracker, which let customers know exactly where their pizzas were and when they would be arriving. That innovation came about because Domino’s “really listened to the voice of our customer and adapted based on what they needed,” Domino’s SVP of Customer and Store Experiences Christopher Thomas-Moore told the audience during his session at NRF Nexus in July.

Domino's Christopher Thomas-Moore speaks at NRF Nexus
Domino’s SVP of Customer and Store Experiences Christopher Thomas-Moore speaks at NRF Nexus.

“Innovation has been a big part of our journey and where we are as a brand,” Thomas-Moore said. In fact, Domino’s — which was founded by two brothers in Ypsilanti, Mich., in 1960 — was one of the first pizza restaurant chains to offer delivery.

In the years since, the franchised company with 19,000 stores in nearly 100 countries has leveraged innovation to meet customer needs and reduce pain points — everything from designing a “pizza-first” vehicle with a warmer in the back because customers were complaining about their food arriving cold to launching Domino’s Hotspots, which allows customers to order pizza for delivery anywhere they are located via GPS.

“Domino’s wants to be in the middle, at the forefront and in the mix, to define the revolution up front and be part of it so we can form it,” Thomas-Moore said.

Companies must ask themselves three questions to continue to innovate and grow, according to Thomas-Moore.

Is your business built for agility?

Domino’s parity structure, which gives every team the same importance and resources, allows alignment in goals and objectives. “So if we need to pivot, we all pivot,” Thomas-Moore said. That alignment became particularly important during the pandemic, when the entire organization had to shift to contactless delivery and new service methods for pickup orders.

Is your content and messaging relevant?

“We really understand and really lean into tensions, and we feel like when we can break a tension, that’s when we have some of our most powerful messages within the brand,” Thomas-Moore said.

He pointed to the brand’s 2019 Points for Pies program, which awarded loyalty points to customers who scanned and submitted a picture of a delivered pizza, regardless of where they ordered the pizza from. That program was designed to bring people together over a shared love of pizza during a time when “we were a deeply divided and partisan country,” he said. “The heart of Points for Pies was about celebrating the love for pizza.”

NRF Nexus 2022

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How much do you actually support disruption in your business or category?

“Big brand disruptions have big payoffs,” Thomas-Moore said. For the pizza delivery category, one of the biggest disruptors over the past two years has been third-party delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash and others. But that experience for customers was “not all that great,” he said, primarily because most food items weren’t designed for delivery.

“We decided to highlight the bad experiences people were having and design favorites that could be delivered better,” like Domino’s cheeseburger pizza and chicken taco pizza. Domino’s also created its “surprise frees” campaign to counter all the “surprise fees” that third-party delivery services charged.

Keeping these three questions at the forefront can help brands prepare to innovate and grow. “We are in a constant state of flux,” Thomas-Moore said. “We’ve all had to embrace the revolution.”

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