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Pizza Wars 2021: Brands Effectively Leverage Digital Tactics

February 12, 2021 Sarah Cavill

“The market size, measured by revenue, of the pizza restaurants industry is $47.5bn in 2021,” according to IBISWorld. That’s a lot of pizza. And, while getting a pizza delivered is nothing new, the need for easy, affordable, seamless delivery was imperative the past 12 months. Pizza brands, including Pizza Hut, Little Caesars and Domino’s, amplified their digital online ordering and delivery while leveraging loyalty programs, price promotions and personalization to engage and convert pizza eaters this past year. Digital solutions have been essential for quick-serve restaurants (QSRs) since the pandemic hit American shores, and pizza brands effectively optimized multichannel digital solutions in the latest pizza battle.

Pizza Hut: Contactless Ordering + Rewards Program 

Pizza Hut: Contactless Ordering + Rewards Program

In 2020, Pizza Hut re-approached its priorities based on evolved consumer needs and wants. The first step was accelerating delivery. “We are leaning in to accelerate the transition of our Pizza Hut U.S. asset base to truly modern delivery carryout assets,” said David Gibbs, president, COO and CFO of Yum! Brands, Pizza Hut parent company. “This [being more delivery focused] will ultimately strengthen the Pizza Hut business in the U.S. and set it up for faster long-term growth.” QSRs that have been able to execute efficient delivery processes, either themselves or with third-party providers like GrubHub or Slice, have had an easier time meeting consumer expectations during the pandemic. 

Consumers who enroll in Hut Rewards, Pizza Hut’s loyalty program, can earn free pizzas and free delivery. By offering delivery benefits to consumers who sign on for Hut Rewards, Pizza Hut is able to enroll more customers and gather more data on those customers, enabling the brand to drive sales with targeted messaging that emphasizes delivery benefits and online promotions. 

Little Caesars: Delivery + Affordability

Little Caesars kicked off 2020 with a hilarious spot at the Super Bowl, announcing that it was finally offering delivery. And the timing couldn’t have been better for the brand. Although Little Caesars didn’t release 2020 sales data, the brand has remained positive about its successes during the difficult year and is looking ahead to 2021. The brand’s famously affordable pizza is highlighted in a new multichannel campaign, “Big Pizza,” which leans into Little Caesars value-based messaging.

The tagline “We’re not Big Pizza, we’re Little Caesars” pokes fun at the “fancy” pizza brands, displaying pizza executives sitting at pizza-shaped conference tables and manically laughing. The “Big Pizza” campaign is being executed across digital channels, with Jessica Wohl for Ad Age, noting that the “messaging gives Little Caesars the opportunity to continue with a repeatable construct across various media platforms. Along with 30-second and 15-second commercials, plans [include] marketing around Valentine’s Day, working with influencers, a custom video series and live in-show integrations.” 

Domino’s: Ahead Of The Digital Curve + First-Party Data

While other brands were playing catch up, Domino’s had quietly been mastering digital optimization for online ordering, customization and delivery for years. Paul Hiebert and Erik Oster, reporting for AdWeek, explain, Domino’s has “crafted ads promoting the chain’s pizza tracker, delivery hotspots, delivery insurance and AnyWare initiative, which makes it possible to order Domino’s from practically any internet-connected device.” 

As of December 2020, Domino’s was taking “around 75% of its orders via digital channels.” And, the brand uses the first-party data gained from their digital innovation and relentless adoption of effective digital outreach to create highly localized campaigns. “Location data is of utmost importance for our customer experience, especially for live-order tracking. It [location data] is also used for business viability, for example, in predicting sales for new stores. For marketing in specific areas, we implement location-based advertising via digital and mobile communication,” said Mayank Singh, senior general manager, head of marketing and technology for Domino’s Pizza Indonesia. 

As pizza brands battle it out, one thing is clear: making it easy for people to get their pizza is imperative to pizza brands that want to meet consumer demand for seamless, affordable door-to-door delivery. Whether it’s linking delivery perks to loyalty programs, offering the lowest prices or leveraging first-party data for effective targeting, pizza brands are keen to emphasize that their hot cheesy goodness is the easiest to get. 

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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