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    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

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Dominos DXP is a gimmick

Dominos has apparently entered the car business. Last fall, Dominos announced it had created a delivery car, the Dominos DXP, which was specialty built to do one thing: deliver pizzas. Now, it has started a new advertising campaign featuring the Dominos DXP that looks more like a car commercial than a pizza commercial.

The ads spotlight the features of this new delivery vehicle, including its warming oven and interior built for one. The problem is that creating a car that is specifically designed to deliver pizzas does not create brand preference.

The Dominos DXP is systematic of the larger problem.

I have written about the pizza delivery industry before, specifically how none of major chains have given consumers any meaningful reasons to choose. We have seen $10 pizzas, flavored crusts and expanded menus. None of those values provide any real reason to prefer one to the other beyond a special deal or taste.

And let’s be real. If people were ordering pizza delivery purely for taste, there is a local pizza place in most communities that would put Dominos, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns and Little Caesar’s to shame.

What I don’t understand about the Dominos DXP is why should a consumer care? Does it make the pizza less expensive, taste better or get it to me quicker? The answer is no. I bet the people at Dominos would argue that the warming oven would keep pizza warmer while it’s out on delivery.

But that’s a table stake. How many times have you ever ordered a pizza that arrived cold?

This is more of a gimmick than it is about building preference. Joe Jordan, Dominos CMO, said that the car represented “a tangible indication of our dedication to delivery.” So, in other words, the car means you deliver pizzas.

Pizza Hut has no car and it delivers. To be a pizza delivery company, you have to be dedicated to delivery. It is the definition of what you do. Now, if the car got my pizza to my house five minutes after I ordered it, that may be something else. But there simply is nothing that the Dominos DXP provides that makes choosing that pizza brand a better choice. Table stakes do not make brands.

Let’s face it. This is just an ad campaign. How sad has the pizza delivery business become when, rather than giving customers a reason to choose, one of the players gives them a car ad. I agree that, in order to build real preference in this category, it will take some out of the box thinking. But this is just a case of confusing activity with accomplishment. Sure, Dominos built the first pizza delivery car but it forgot about building its brand along the way.

45 thoughts on “Dominos DXP is a gimmick

      1. I’m sceptical any Domino’s manager will approve the purchase (assuming Corporate isn’t providing the cars gratis). Would you hand the typical delivery driver the keys to a new car? Even if it is a customised Chevy Spark?

        1. You would think but according to Dominos, there are 97 of them on the road and the franchise buys them. So apparently Dominos corporate has either got their franchise owners to drink the Kool-aid or franchise owners are so desperate to grow their businesses they are willing to “invest” in one of these cars. Either way, I am no more or less, for that matter, likely to order Dominos because of the car. Now one could argue that it has had an impact on awareness, but Dominos has failed in connecting any meaning that provides a tangible benefit to the customer – i.e. does the pizza taste better, get to me faster or is it less expensive?

  1. If it is a legitimate 2-door car, minus the warming oven bit, sure, I would buy it. No body is making the 2-door hatchback cars any more. They are perfect for driving in town. No problems parking.

  2. What could Dominos expect the aftermarket and the used car market to do for or with this car? And why, specifically, should we be impressed?
    If I put a dog barrier in the back of my vehicle it does not mean I am dedicated to moving dogs around. It means I am dedicated in keeping them out of the front seat or off the dash and/or front window in a crash.

  3. Ordering pizza for delivery fell off my radar years ago when I realized I can order one before I head home, pick it up on my way home and eat it when I got home.
    And not to take anything away from the delivery drivers, I save that much more and can eat as soon as I set the table or plop my but on the couch to watch TV.
    Will a cute little delivery car be a primary concern when I order a pizza from Domino’s? Nope, but mostly because I don’t eat Domino’s any more since I found about their Take and Bake competition which tastes FAR better anyway.
    In the end, the pundits nailed it by pronouncing it as a gimmick, plain and simple. But, hey, it’s a cute gimmick and idea. Now if I could incorporate an economical oven into my truck to keep my food warm when I’m camping in the woods, well, come see me.
    Until then, Domino’s Chief All Things To Accommodate The Customer, get back to the business at hand and create a GOOD PIZZA (You know, like you USED to have?!?)
    Perhaps then you’ll get (Former) customers back and you won’t jack up the prices to pay for your cute delivery vehicle.
    How’s about THAT??

  4. To the writer, that is the point of advertising, to brand their product. I know, as do many, that it’s an ad campaign. That’s why it was a commercial….duh. However, the commercial, and apparent branding, will stick in the television consumer’s mind. I’d rethink your criticism.

    1. The criticism is not about the ad per se and I think you perfectly illustrate the confusion between brand and advertising. You state that “the point of advertising, to brand their product.” I believe this to be absolutely true, however in the case of the whole DXP campaign, how is Domino’s being branded? From these ads, what do they tell you about the Domino’s brand? Are the ads memorable? Sure but do they incite you to action? Do they demonstrate a value proposition that is better for the pizza ordering customer? I don’t think so. These ads are a car commercial. Domino’s is in the pizza business not the car business. How the pizza gets to me (and mind you there are only about 100 of these on the road presently so that means you have about a 2% chance of having one at your local store) is irrelevant unless it makes the pizza better.

  5. Neat idea but why would the delivery person want to stand in oncoming traffic to deal with a pizza. Maybe the warming oven should be on the side walk side of the vehicle. Safer and may also get the customer more involved by getting their own pizza and also a card swipe option in same location. Driver never has to get out and it is something totally new.

    1. Interesting thought and we never contemplated the idea that the oven was on the wrong side. Perhaps they were thinking about a more suburban setting for delivery?

  6. i would like to add that most pizza places require the delivery driver to have their own transportation to deliver the pizzas, and when you deliver pizzas that’s added mileage to your personal vehicle. now if dominos pays for the gas then it will be truly worth it for the driver’s that depend on tips to keep their car going.

  7. The entire point of the DXP is to create buzz, and to get more people talking about Dominoes. It’s clearly working too with it being covered in the news and in articles like this. There are people talking about it and there’s no doubt people will see it on the street and think it’s cool.

    1. Creating buzz and changing behavior are two completely different things. Buzz does nothing unless it creates an impetus to change a behavior (buy Domino’s pizza). Will you buy Domino’s more since they are generating buzz? Does the buzz make it taste better, get it to you faster or make it less expensive? My point is that Domino’s does not have an awareness problem, they have a preference problem and in this category buzz does little to move the needle over the long haul.

  8. The DXP was designed to make pizza delivery a more ergonomical process for both the company and customer. The space in the DXP allows the driver to handle more than one delivery at a time, while the warming oven ensures that the pizza is still nice and hot when it reaches the customer. Overall I would say it absolutley was a smart decision. Great thinking Dominoes!..

  9. I would buy one I’m a pizza delivery driver of a local pizza place in a 2 horse town with a normal population of approximately 2000 commercial restaurants could not survive here it sure would be nice for domino’s to donate that little car to me so I don’t have to use my personal vehicle anymore

  10. Think about this though. Most delivery companies for pizza have a mileage radius they will deliver to, because if they go too far out of that radius the pizza won’t be warm when it gets there and they all guarantee it to be warm when it gets there or its free. With dominoes using the DXP, they could actually increase that radius and therefore be able to deliver to more customers in a larger radius. I think they should add that to their campaign on the car. That would make the car possibly worthwhile, as they could cater to more customers, therefore increasing the revenue they make. Just a thought.

  11. Does anyone remember the test prototype for the pizza van that came to your driveway and made your pizza right there (Pizza Hut, who ever?) in Cedar Rapids, IA? This is a failed concept for so long, 20 years ago. Now, here is the REAL challenge, folks…GOOD pizza, delivered in 30 minutes. No hype, no special cars, just really good pizza. I MEAN, REALLY GOOD PIZZA? nope, non? So it’s a hyped hot box car, still not good pizza. None of them. Oh, and the van making pizza in my driveway…crap, but hot! Geez…

  12. Getting this “special ” car didn’t connect their current or prospect customers with their product. This is a fail for me this car should be given to the franchises that have met and exceeded with certain quotas within each franchise. And as far as creating a commercial for the world to see that was just “pointless” we really don’t care. Caring should have been creating a better price and point product that would give other competition a run for their money…

  13. As a former delivery driver I would much rather prefer driving a company vehichle rather than my own personal vehichle. Doing deliveries in your own car puts a lot of wear and tear on the vehichle. Also, personal car insurance doesn’t cover delivery vehichles if it happened during delivering. I learned that the hard way when some 17 year old kid with no car insurance ran into my vehichle and totaled it. My car insurance wouldn’t approve my claim, because they don’t cover accidents while delivering. Therefore I essentially just lost my last 6 months of pay. I believe all delivery companies should provide a company car to their drivers or cover their insurance and claims if they get in an accident and wasn’t their fault. I quit at that point, because I couldn’t risk wrecking another car, so it cost me a job too.

  14. I think the word you were looking for is systemic. Not sure what is more unbelievable, that this article exists or that people are actually commenting on it, myself included. Who cares.

  15. Domino’s Pizza is horrible. I’m sure it will still taste like garbage even if it does come out of a car that doubles as a billboard oven.

  16. At least this vehicle is tied to a pizza vendor ad. Who hasn’t seen those grotesque vehicles that are being sold for outrageous prices and are proudly being advertised to sell them as Fords, Chevy’s, etc., etc.

  17. From what I understand the driver will be hand assembling the pizza on the removed passenger seat platform while they drive. The oven cooks the pizza in 12 minutes. Depending on how far away you live from the mother Dominos station you could end up having the DXP sit outside while your pizza finishes baking.

  18. I disagree with the writer and the majority of the comments, including @Corbin. It’s a great marketing campaign and it will be interesting to see how they continue it. Will it impact sales? Does Peyton Manning make you want to eat Papa Johns? Do the low low prices and cheesy ads make you want to eat Little Ceasars? Every fast food joint spends 10s of millions on TV advertising every year. What’s the impact? Brand Awareness and maybe shifting a few % points of share, even though all of the pizza sucks. I’m not a Dominos fan and I agree with @Howard that take and bake options have made delivery obsolete for me (when I don’t want to go out for good pizza). I also agree with @Kaleb that this is mostly about better delivery efficiency. But one thing that is weird is having the oven on the driver’s side which will matter on city streets.

  19. Ok, I do love dominoes over the other guys , but , are there going to charge more for delivery? , how is the hiring process is going to be? (Not that I am interested ) , if they go higher on their prices their going to loose this guy

  20. Somebody (ahem: author) takes commerce a bit too seriously.

    People: Delivery vehicle. Winnebago, U-Haul, UPS and FedEx all make modifications to available commercial vehicles, so Domino’s is causing you confusion?

    These are real vehicles, the ‘gimmick’ will be revealed in whether Domino’s discovers that supplying vehicles to their stores is a cost they will support for the long term. Gimmick would be that Domino’s discovers there are significant down sides to this campaign. After all, the US Postal Service (USPS, not to be confused with United Parcel Service, UPS), has finally tossed in the towel on procuring purpose built vehicles, but the campaign lasted a few decades. Was that just a ‘gimmick’?

  21. I agree with spluffer, I think everyone is making a bit much out of this thing. Who cares, if Domino’s wants to develop a car catered to delivery of pizza and the like them do it. Why the proverbial witch hunt on pizza delivery?! If you don’t like it don’t order from them, that’s supposed to be the great thing about our free capitalist society…They’re free to build it and we’re all free to buy into it or not.

  22. You’re a moron. You sound as though you’re hurt by this DXP, as though you own stock in another company. Domino’s haven’t raised prices to justify these cars. The bottom line is, you’ll never have to worry about a cold pizza. I don’t know where you live, but in larger cities, pizza delivered cold can happen… A lot. Sure, it didn’t change the taste, but it does increase the likelihood of receiving a quality product. If the Domino’s in my town had that delivery vehicle, YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE that would influence my decision on where to order my pizza from. Sure, it smacks of gimmickry, but it’s a lot more inventive than simply adding bacon to a stuffed crust pizza. If you’ve a bone to pick with domino’s, why not blast them for those stupid things that look little more than chunks of chicken on wax paper with some melted cheese on it? That’s a real lack of substance.

  23. Wouldn’t this concept be worthless from the get-go, unless EVERY Dominos driver on the planet was driving a DXP? You’re not going to convince a single customer that they’ll benefit from an in-car warming oven when only ONE driver working at their local Dominos is piloting one.

  24. The car is a franchise. It doesn’t belong to the store. It would belong to who ever buys it. If the owner of a dominos buys one different story.

  25. The DXP is a complete waste of Domino’s time and money. Perhaps they should have spent that much effort into making dine in Domino’s restaurants. It’s really only useful to people in major cities as well as to bad drivers who take their time delivering. Thumbs down Domino’s.

  26. Yeah these are completely bull crap. No store owner is going to pay for one of these, especially when every domino’s has like 25 drivers. I know my old boss wouldn’t pay for one, he was such a stingy prick, he got mad when we gave people cheese and peppers

  27. It’s a moronic campaign from a company CLEARLY out of touch with its customers. Deliver pizza in a 1986 Yugo… it’s the same. Perhaps Dominoes should spend 1/10th the money they are spending on this DXP campaign to actually IMPROVE THE PIZZA.

  28. Yeah I am also a former driver and still can’t wrap my head around why bother with such a vehicle? I mean one store in one city would have at best one of these cars. So the odds that it would bring your pizza is 2,500:1. Whoopdy doo! Plus the poor dude who actually gets to drive it looses milage pay! A very silly idea and simply doesn’t make me want to order Domino’s pizza any more or less. It is as if Dunkin Donuts deployed special drones to bring you a donut but only 80 stores out of the 1000+ use them. And I actually like my pizza to be a little cool by the time it arrives, I hate hot pizza that burns your tongue!

  29. I remember when the iPhone came out critics were saying it was going to flop because it was a gimmick and no one would use it because it was a confusing piece of tech lol.That kind of reminds reminds me of you and your article.you don’t get it kids don’t like good pizza they just love brands.i bought great local pizza for teenagers at a reception and they gasped and said were is the dominos lol.this car is for them and to keep them addicted to bad pizza.i had the same problem when I coached basketball,they all wanted Brand pizza.its a hard effort to get them to see the light,so don’t be surprised this actually works for dominos because kids don’t like really good pizza ????????????

  30. Actually, delivering pizzas (for Godfathers, Golden Valley, MN) several US administrations ago I would have liked this car, though I would have missed out on mileage paid-out. Where it would have been useful was for ‘out of area’ deliveries. Basically traffic and distance meant ‘out of area’ deliveries were where we didn’t deliver since the pizza would not be hot enough. This happened frequently since the orders were taken by ANYONE in the store that often didn’t understand the max delivery border.

    Inclement weather..

    Most people if you got it there hot, they didn’t really care about time (we didn’t do timed deliveries anyway at Godfathers, dunno about today though). If there’s 13″ of snow and they don’t want to go out, they’d give us a call. This thing ‘sounds’ like I would have been able to keep the pies nearly oven fresh even if it was 3℉ out, and my windows probably would not be all fogged over by the pizzas.

    Now for Domino’s, where I see this useful is to expand their delivery borders. Keep the temperature up and do something to control moisture you could deliver father away and still have something appealing in the box.

    Gimmick?

    Yah, it’s got a strong twinge of gimmick.

  31. “How sad has pizza delivery become”… “table stakes do not make brands.” Hunh? You’re missing the true value of what’s happening here. Branding, advertising, and marketing take a multitude of forms. You make it seem as though as this happened in a vacuum, as if Domino’s has no other platform to show the value of the actual product. Two things here: one, Wall Street liked Domino’s gimmick, and mentioned it positively along with its ability to access younger users on platforms such as smart tvs. It’s actually gaining share. Two, this brings Domino’s into a whole new realm of mobile advertising. Mobile impressions are gold – and the CPM for mobile blows away outdoor or television. And really, did Coors jump the shark because it created a cold-activated can, or Bud Light the “My Bud Light” label? Of course not. I do give writer credit for the conversation this has generated over several months, very interesting.

  32. As a dominoes driver, my personal car, my dodge dart, somehow gets confused with the dxp all the time, and as i tell everyone that asks if its the new dominos car, i tell them no, id rather drive mycar…its faster and better looking. 5 minutes after you order??? Thats absurd, considering it takes a pizza 7 minutes to go through the oven. I actually try to get the order to you in 15-20 minutes after you order, with many, many people saying “wow that was quick!” Its all about customer service, and being quick, not what car you drive, although my tuned Dart seems to do the job well considering i make 4k a month as a dominoes driver.

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