Pizza Chains’ New Recipes for Success

Domino’s and Pizza Hut are two of the largest pizza chains in the U.S., but each have encountered some turbulence in recent years.

In April, Domino’s reported a slowdown in its delivery business, and Pizza Hut has faced a long uphill battle trying to transition from a dine-in pizza place to a more modern takeout model.

These challenges have led both QSRs to tinker with their recipes for success, inspiring innovative new changes to what pizza chains can offer consumers, breaking old rules and yielding promising results.

Domino’s Switches Up Delivery

Want pizza delivered directly to your picnic blanket, wherever that may be? Just drop a pin on the map and Domino’s will come find you.

Domino’s launched its new Pinpoint Delivery service just in time for summer, when customers may find themselves craving pizza at the park, beach, or virtually anywhere else without an exact address. Through the service, customers can see their driver’s GPS location to track their order and receive text alerts about their delivery.

As it becomes increasingly clear that consumers are willing to pay for the convenience of delivery, pizza chains like Domino’s are stepping up their game to capitalize on the demand.

“We have seen an increased use of delivery drivers, drivers who work for multiple chains and brands, and new product development to keep competition alive given the number of pizza restaurants and brands now delivering,” Matthew Taylor, Senior Manager of Consulting, North America, Global Food Division at NSF told The Food Institute.

“There has also been an uptick in the use of third-party delivery services,” said Taylor.

And Domino’s is no exception. On July 12, Domino’s announced that it will offer delivery through Uber Eats and Postmates, an exclusive agreement until at least 2024. The partnership will begin in four pilot markets in the U.S. this fall. Domino’s shares surged 10% after the announcement, reported Reuters.

Pizza Hut Maximizes Its Menu

Meanwhile, after years of struggle, Pizza Hut is bouncing back. The 65-year-old chain reported 8% same-store sales growth in the first quarter, outpacing the competition.

Much of that growth can be attributed to the brand’s innovative new menu items, including its Melts sandwiches, reported Restaurant Business. Melts mark Pizza Hut’s entrance into the handheld category with four different recipes, each one designed not to be shared.

In fact, to announce the new menu item, Pizza Hut invited customers to sign an “MDA” (a Melts Disclosure Agreement) signifying that they would not share pictures of the Melts on social media for a chance to win $100.

The Hut’s expansion into the sandwich game, coupled with its unique marketing ploy, reflects a larger trend of pizza chains adding creative new offerings to stand out amid a buffet of options.

“The choices available to consumers have grown in the last few years,” said Taylor. “Chains are looking at collaborations with other brands to provide new and existing products and go beyond the usual pizza offering, such as desserts, drinks, and other food.”

The Food Institute Podcast

What were the biggest trends at the 2023 Summer Fancy Food Show? Tanner Food Group president, Specialty Food Association alum, and food industry veteran Ron Tanner joined The Food Institute Podcast to reflect upon the show’s biggest winners, emerging trends, and what it takes to have staying power in the food industry. Additionally, he shares how important events like the Summer Fancy Food show have become in a post-pandemic world.