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Pizza Throwdown puts Domino’s Pizza Turnaround to the test

March 26th, 2010 · 1 Comment · All Posts, SamDecker

They called it the “Pizza Turnaround.”

pizza taster

The Bazaarvoice Pizza ThrowdownTaste tests and focus groups had execs at Domino’s Pizza cringing as unhappy pizzaphiles gave brutally honest feedback on the taste of their pizza. Domino’s executives had a choice to make: go about their business – as many brands would – or learn from this negative feedback and change their 50 year old recipe.

Domino’s chose wisely, embracing customer oxygen and revamping their recipe. We hear the “what about negative reviews?” question all the time. What Domino’s finally realized is an idea Bazaarvoice promotes to our clients each day – negative reviews are a gift, an opportunity to improve your products and services to further delight your customers. We’ve seen this philosophy work wonders for clients like Oriental Trading Company and Land of Nod.

Where many brands would privately have gone about their business by rationalizing or ignoring the feedback, Domino’s did the opposite. And the pizza chain took their efforts a step further, launching a national campaign promoting how bad their pizza used to be. Their message was simple: “We were failing you. We finally heard you. Here’s what we did about it. Won’t you try us again?”

As passionate advocates of customer oxygen, we naturally applauded these campaigns. But we were curious, as the ads no doubt intended – is the new Domino’s recipe really better? We decided to conduct our own scientific test (NOT… but we think close enough) to see how listening to and acting on the opinions of their customers had benefited the chain.

The Bazaarvoice Pizza Throwdown

graph 1

Tasters’ stated preferences before the taste test

We found ten self-proclaimed pizza connoisseurs to participate in a taste test of Domino’s against its top two national competitors – Pizza Hut and Papa John’s. We ordered large cheese pizzas with original crust from each, testing the competitors on the pizza basics.

Before the test, we asked the tasters to tell us which pizza they thought they liked best. Papa John’s was the clear favorite, with 60% of the vote.

Each taster was blindfolded to ensure responses were based solely on taste. They were then asked to taste a slice of each competitor’s pizza, and give their reviews, rating each pizza on sauce, crust, cheese, and overall taste.

The Results

graph 2

We weren’t sure what to expect. Even if Domino’s didn’t win, we thought they still had a great story to tell, as they’d demonstrated action and accountability to customer feedback. But fortunately for this story and for Domino’s, the new and improved pizza was the clear winner, with 50% of the tasters picking the chain’s new recipe as the tastiest pie.

Domino’s outperformed the competitors in every aspect of the test, earning 3.8 out of a possible 5 stars for overall taste.

tasting results
Pizza components’ taster ratings

You can watch how the taste test was done in our video here and on Youtube:

By embracing their customers’ negative feedback, Domino’s was able to improve their product quality and impress their customers. And not only are customers happy with the change, but so are shareholders! Apparently the campaign is expected to be a sales hit – Domino’s stock is up close to 50% over prices three months ago.

Operationalizing customer feedback to radically improve an entire organization is something we help our clients do every day. Does your business have the tools to embrace the voice of the customer?

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