Main content

Domino's Pizza doesn't use mobile as just another sales channel. It's a branding tool.

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez June 26, 2014
Nick Dutch, head of digital at Domino's, was speaking this week at the Marketing Week Live conference where he explained how the company is trying to get consumers to not just buy via mobile, but to also interact with the brand.


Attending Marketing Week Live in London this week has been an interesting one for me. As I tweeted to my fellow diginomica colleague Stuart, the event was

quite different from the usual technology focused events I go to – mostly because it was filled with young and enthusiastic delegates that were excited about the use of digital in marketing. Rather than the pessimistic, older groups that I'm used to hanging around with (and probably feel more comfortable with, if I'm being honest) on the enterprise IT scene. I think it's the first time I truly got to see through the eyes of the 'marketing department' and get a feel for how 'generation X' (or whatever you want to call them) believe that technology should be doing for their companies. Rather than looking for stable, secure, high performing platforms and applications, they are mostly interested in how digital can better drive customer engagement.

That's not to say that the traditional approach to enterprise IT is not relevant, or is not important, we all know it is. But it was a good reminder for me that things are changing and those in marketing are looking to digital tools to do something different. This was certainly true for Domino's Pizza – a UK pizza delivery service that has a strong presence on the high street and is very popular. Domino's Pizza's head of digital, Nick Dutch, explained to delegates at the conference that the company isn't just viewing mobile as another effective sales channel – which of course it is – but it is also figuring out and experimenting with ways in which it can be used to boost brand engagement and interaction with its customers.

Dutch had another guy on hand at the event, Mark Holden, from the company's media and advertising agency, Arena Media. Holden set the scene by explaining that his agency is typically seeing that although mobile usage is very high amongst companies, on average only 16% of customers complete a buying journey from beginning to end on mobile. However, he doesn't believe that this means that there isn't an opportunity to influence beyond the traditional mobile purchasing options. Holden said:

“Mobile is creating new sales and marketing opportunities, that's where we are seeing growth and influence. People wasting time on their smartphones is creating new sales opportunities for us. But it is also creating new spontaneous marketing opportunities. 

“Mobile is much more influential than sales on mobile, it influences sales on other platforms. It must become important for sales and marketing.”

E-commerce is a tasty proposition for Domino's

Dutch went on to explain that e-commerce has become incredibly important to Domino's and is a big part of the business, which is growing significantly. Across all digital platforms, e-commerce now accounts for over half of all Domino's sales – meaning that the company has now truly moved away from being a traditional bricks and mortar business. Apart from the company's website, it also launched its first mobile app in 2009 and now has applications across iOS,

Android and Windows. Dutch said that starting early on the app scene has proved to be a significant advantage for the company:

“Apps alone are now 40% of our sales, for something that didn't exist for us three or four years ago, it is now a huge part of what we do. One of the things that helped us was that first mover advantage, we have learned so much stuff that our competition haven't been able to get into yet.”

And although this story is mostly going to be about how Domino's is using mobile to tap into branding, that doesn't mean it hasn't been paying attention to it as a sales tool. For example, it is using a Google analytics stack to figure out how customers travel across their mobile and web channels to make purchases and it has made changes to its mobile application to keep customers coming back to it even after having made a purchase e.g. putting a delivery tracker on the homepage. It has also invested heavily in sending out text messages to its customers with promotional offers, which Dutch said is a basic mobile proposition, but an effective one (I actually received a text from them whilst writing this).

But let's get on to how Domino's is tapping into how mobile is being used to boost the brand's profile. Something which Dutch described as the “sexy” side of mobile.

Mobile changes behaviour

Domino's has carried out a number of marketing activities over the past year or so that have relied heavily on mobile and this was driven by the realisation internally at the company that a pizza delivery isn't actually the focal point of someone's evening (although I'm sure Domino's wishes it was). Instead pizza, like most other takeaways, tends to accompany some other event – e.g. a movie, TV viewing, football matches, gaming, etc. Dutch and and his team wanted to use mobile to make sure that Domino's was interacting with customers during these events, not just as a pizza delivery, but as a brand.

For example, last year Domino's embarked on a media partnership with the popular reality TV show and singing contest, X Factor. Instead of dishing out millions to sponsor the broadcast, Domino's opted to be the mobile app sponsor. The app got 1.7 million downloads during the show's airtime last year and Domino's did things like created games for users to throw pretend pizzas at the judges (if only they were real). Dutch said that this paid-for sponsoring was a great success for the company:

“We got so much great interaction, the game was played half a million times. You can't buy that sort of thing from a broadcast sponsorship, we got a lot more interaction out of it by sponsoring the mobile app.”

However, this wasn't one of the best mobile/TV branding endeavours in my opinion. For example, Domino's has also (unofficially) launched an application that coincides with the World Cup, which not only gives users and customers updates to scores, but it also offers them promotions and offers when certain teams score. For example, when England scored (one of their very few goals) Domino's pushed out a promotion for a few thousand lucky customers and these were

Domino's Pizza UK plans to recruit 1,300 drivers in the run up to the World Cup
snapped up in 3 seconds. Dutch sees this as Domino's becoming a brand companion for people during a high profile event, which actually costs the company very little.

The company has also used Twitter to engage with some of its target communities, for instance people interested in gaming (for which it sees pizza delivery as being another great companion to). For example, during a high profile launch of a new game last year Domino's created a hashtag and said it would give away a Playstation 4 to one lucky customer that used the hashtag. Domino's was trending worldwide for 4 hours, which is great for its profile, but it ultimately only cost the company about £1,000. I can think of a few advertising campaigns that have probably been far less effective and cost a whole lot more.

However, my favourite use of mobile to increase brand awareness has to be what Domino's did on Valentines day this year through the use of popular dating app Tinder. For those of you that are coupled up and unaware, Tinder works by finding people near your location that you might be interested in, and then you as a user swipe left or right depending on whether you'd like to talk to them. If you both like the look of each other, you are a match, and you can chat (and do whatever else). On Valentines day, Domino's created its own profile on Tinder and set about matching with people on the application – and then for the people it went on 'dates' with it, they got some free pizza. This also led to a lot of media coverage. Another effective, yet cheap, use of mobile to raise the profile of your brand.

Dutch said something during his session that I thought was very true and sums up nicely all of the examples mentioned (and serves as a good reminder to others). He said:

“Mobile is not just another digital channel. It makes people behave in a different way, it prompts marketing activity in a different way. It has had a big impact on how we think about marketing.”

I'm impressed Dominos.

A grey colored placeholder image