Is it possible that self-criticism is the marketing future for franchises?
For food franchises, sometimes market reach trumps taste. I remember growing up Friday night’s growing up in suburban New Jersey. If my family had the time and were craving pizza, nine times out of ten, we’d go to the local pizzeria. It had been there for 50 years and the recipe, which never changed, probably went all the way back to Italy.
Franchised brands like Domino’s or Pizza Hut were always a nice alternative, but there was something more satisfying in eating the real thing.
So it’s interesting to see a company like Domino’s making a point of rubbishing its old pizza recipe. Sure, they’re acknowledging an open secret among real pizza lovers, but they’re also admitting a kind of culpability. Straight talk can be dangerous. In the process of marketing their brand new pizza recipe, they’ve pointed out the world the faults of their old recipe.
As the Chicago Tribune notes:
The 9,000-unit chain took a big chance, not only reformulating its signature product for the American market but also disparaging its long-standing recipe in a straight-talk marketing campaign.
The old crust? "Cardboard," the company admitted in its ads. The old sauce? "Ketchup." The staff? Weary of customers trashing the food.
But as the paper reports, the new Domino’s recipe is yielding big sales. In the first quarter, sales are up 14.3%. That’s a huge spike for a business that saturates the market like Domino’s. By pointing out the flaws in its old approach, Domino’s clearly has been able to break with the past and bring consumers back.
Would it work for, say, a stuttering cleaning or retail franchise? It seems to depend from case to case.
"You can't do candor all the time, but once or twice, it works," said Mac Brand, a consultant in Chicago for Bellwether Food Group Inc told the Tribune.