CONNECTING THE DOTS OUTSIDE THE BOX TO FILL A POTHOLE!
Americans love their pizzas (we all do, obviously!). So much so, that the market for pizza restaurant sales in the USA topped a whopping 46.6 billion dollars in 2022, of which the pizza delivery market alone contributed a staggering $17.3 billion. Truly, nothing like a pizza for all reasons and all seasons!
With the advent of technology & internet, the concept of food delivery had slowly taken precedence. The ever increasing competition among fellow counterparts has seen pizza brands resort to newer and innovative ways to capture the mindshare of the consumer. Standing tall amidst all these has been Domino’s “30 minutes or less” initiative where they literally give you the pizza for free if it’s not delivered under the mentioned time period.
However with the passage of time, the call for driver safety and not compromising on the quality of pizza meant that Domino’s started rolling back the initiative. While it still focused on striving to provide the best experience for its consumers while ordering a pizza from their homes, it was now faced with a different challenge – bad roads!
We all have faced it. Potholes, cracks and bumps in a road typically spoil not only the driving experience but can also sometimes seriously hamper the packaging of delicate, fragile goods which are being transported. While the municipal administration relays roads on a periodic basis, no one actually pays any heed or take ownership to fix a small pothole or a crack which has developed over time. They tend to overlook the momentary inconvenience experienced. It was certainly an anti-pattern not just for Domino’s, but also for other delivery vans and of course, general commuters.
After multiple sessions of listening, dialoging and observation, the customer insights team at Domino’s was getting lots of complaints from customers in different locations. Their pizzas’ apparently didn’t arrive as a single piece! Issues ranging from the cheese sliding to one side, toppings getting toppled and their boxes in a flipped state while the order was delivered were a few of the many complaints received. While investigating further, it revealed that the pizzas in delivery vans which are being driven over roads that are in poor condition are bound to be damaged before they are eaten.
Domino’s were faced with the unique problem of ensuring on-time delivery, driver safety and at the same point of time, maintain the quality and consistency of the taste of the pizza. Now, relaying roads is the job of the municipal administration. Certainly not that of a pizza company! However, they looked at the problem entirely from a different perspective. According to data, Domino’s drivers rake up 10 million miles each week in the US alone delivering pizzas (quite a huge number!). Indirectly, the No. 1 pizza brand in the US is also responsible in a way for the sorry state of the roads!
There is a bigger picture to this seemingly small problem. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that the cost of bad roads to American Businesses will touch $240b by 2022. And fixing all the country’s bad roads will cost upwards of $4.5 trillion over the next decade! With more than 65% of its sales originating through digital channels, Domino’s knew it had a problem up its sleeve.
They started a campaign called Paving for Pizza. Their belief – “Bad roads shouldn’t happen to good pizzas”. They literally planned to pave damaged roads in order to ensure their customers get fresh, neatly packed pizzas every time they order! Yes, you read that right!
Video link: Paving for Pizza
For starters, the users must also know the root cause as to why they receive damaged and disfigured pizzas every time they order! They must be made aware regarding the extent of damage caused due to bad roads.
To verify the extent of damage due to stepping on a pothole or a crack, Domino’s placed a camera inside a pizza warmer and drove the pizza over roads of varying quality. The camera recorded the results and uploaded them on their website. The site invites visitors to select a road condition (they can choose mild, moderate, critical or catastrophic) from its “Pothole Impact Meter.” Once selected the site plays a video – the “Pizza Damage Report” – to show exactly what happens to a pizza as it is driven to its destination over a road in that condition.
Visitors are then guided to enter a zip code for their city in the US to help nominate their city to get a “Paving for Pizza” grant of $5,000 for relaying any potholes or cracks in their localities if any. Domino’s tracks and counts the nominations for each zip code and the ones with the highest nominations become eligible for a grant. Domino’s then reaches out to the city’s municipality.
While most of the municipalities accept the grant from Domino’s, some of them have to get the city council’s approval. When all of these are done, the date for relaying the road with potholes and cracks is fixed and the municipality does the job with their own crew.
IMPACT OF THE CAMPAIGN
While Domino’s had initially earmarked a $5,000 grant for 20 municipalities, the immense popularity of the campaign made Dominoes to extend this campaign for all 50 states. The website saw nearly 137,000 nominations for nearly 15,000 zip codes! The campaign which started in July 2018 saw nominations being accepted till the end of the year. There was a humongous response from not only customers of Domino’s but also other general visitors to the website who demanded the potholes in their localities also to be paved, even though Domino’s doesn’t deliver much there!
By getting the users to nominate their zip codes by themselves, Domino’s instilled a sense of “DIY” – Do it Yourself” upon the general public. It made them perceive as if they themselves are solving the problem of damaged roads!
Apart from solving the main issue of fixing potholes thereby eliminating pizza damage, it also acted as a great branding initiative for the company in gaining goodwill not only amongst its customers, but also among the general public. People loved the fact that a company has taken up this cause for their neighborhood. The local Domino’s stores also went to the extent of sponsoring free pizzas to the crew who were engaged in paving the roads!
Domino’s was not merely a pizza delivery company. Apart from setting industry standards and best practices, they are actually seen as pioneers in adopting new technologies for food delivery. Right from their pizza tracker, ordering pizza via voice or emoji or be it the ambitious experiment to deliver pizzas via drone delivery and self-driving cars, each and every attempt of theirs has been truly path breaking. And now, with the “Paving for pizza” campaign, Domino’s has set the standards for an entirely new dimension of customer experience (or rather should we say customer obsession?!).
Domino’s questioned the assumption that a pizza delivery company should focus only on preparing the best pizzas. Of course, that’s their job! But they identified themselves with the higher purpose of providing the customers a seamlessly hassle free experience of ordering pizza from the comfort of their homes by striving to innovate their processes each and every time. Many municipalities were taken by surprise at the “Paving for Pizza” campaign which actually drives home the aspect of connecting outside the dots as to how a civic problem is viewed from the eyes of a Pizza company!
Design Thinking is all about adopting a human centered approach. At the heart of this campaign, lies the empathetic approach adopted by Domino’s in allaying its customers’ fears and providing a superior delivery experience, each and every time!