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The introduction of Domino’s Pizza to the South African market in October 2014 broke several sales records in the first full week of trade, with sales at the first four stores more than exceeding expectations. Rivonia, the largest of these four stores, served more than 3 000 pizza fans over 5 000 pizzas in the first week, and sales momentum across all four stores has continued into the New Year.

Domino’s Pizza is an American restaurant chain and international franchise pizza delivery company. It was founded in 1960 and today is the second-largest pizza delivery and carry out chain in the United States and the largest worldwide, with more than 11,000 corporate and franchised stores in over 70 countries. Taste Holdings now holds the rights as an exclusive Master Franchisee to operate the brand in nine southern African countries.  Beyond South Africa, the brand will be developed in Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, with Zambia and Malawi to follow, pending the fulfilment of certain conditions.

Current Scooters Pizza and St Elmo’s franchisees in the Taste Holdings group will be given the opportunity and assistance to convert to Domino’s Pizza franchises, effectively creating a platform of more than 125 outlets to which new Domino’s Pizza stores will be added.  To date there are six stores open in various parts of the country with 3 more stores opening in March.

In the eight months prior to the opening of the first stores, a dedicated marketing team from Taste Holdings’ Food Division devised a carefully planned marketing process to launch the brand that included working with agency partners. The objective was to deliver a South African Domino’s Pizza brand positioning, corporate identity and creative direction that correctly replicated the essence of the global brand, while at the same time presenting South African pizza lovers with an attractive new choice.

Market research harnessing consumer focus and product focus groups, among other tools, was key to the process, effectively informing the team’s positioning strategy and guiding the composition of the first South African menu.

“Our research made us re-think our bases, interrogate our sizes, understand our deal strategies and was essential in getting to the right product for the right price for South Africans,” comments Lindy Taoushiani, Divisional Marketing Executive at Taste Holdings Food Division.

The next step was to produce a localised corporate identity and a brand messaging strategy for the October 2014 launch. To achieve this, the marketing team collaborated closely with development and operations personnel, as well as its creative agency, to arrive at the definitive in-store branding, digital menu boards, menus and packaging.

Taoushiani says the creative direction followed was unique to the South African market, successfully maintaining illustrative and expressive elements that communicate the heritage of the global brand.

“From the start, we wanted to make sure that although we were launching only six stores to begin with, we were in fact launching the brand to South Africa as a nation,” she adds. “The broad strategy therefore was split into local store elements, making sure we owned our neighborhoods, as well as regional elements that made customers aware that we were launching in all three major regions. The launch included a national campaign marketed to all South Africans that created an awareness of the brand from the start.”

Marketing activities focused on each of the new stores involved articles published in the local press, supported by targeted SMS campaigns, banners, posters, flyers, billboards and street-pole adverts, as well as targeted search advertising per store. Each store held a “Grand Opening” party that went on for two whole weeks, with staged acts and VIP areas where celebrities and media tweeted and posted about the brand.

A concurrent national campaign involved an online competition inviting all South Africans to enter, driven by a Facebook and Twitter presence. Taoushiani says this helped the team reach the rest of the country and build communities that can be leveraged as new stores open.

To boost the social campaigns and attract influencers, the team deployed an “Influencer Strategy”. This involved partnering with Proverb, a popular local recording artist and TV and radio personality, to appeal to the “cool kids that count” online.  This strategy has successfully attracted a very healthy celebrity/influencer following for Domino’s Pizza.

Opinion piece shared by PR Worx.

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