Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pizza Hut Rebrands as "The Hut"...Hilarity Ensues


To rebrand or not to rebrand. It’s a question that many companies are dealing with as they attempt to reposition their company/brand in order to better align themselves with current hot topics (i.e. clean and green energy, organic/healthy food, etc). This repositioning is often times in attempt to make the brand more relevant to Gen Y.

Case in point, Pizza Hut.

Pizza Hut is currently rebranding in an attempt to change their image. They’re currently testing a new name: The Hut. They are also introducing new items such as a multi-grain crust and all natural tomato sauce in an effort to cast their pizza in a healthier light. While The Hut is just a marketing effort and not a permanent name change, it’s got me scratching my head. But more on that later.

Brian Niccol, Pizza Hut’s CMO explains the rebrand in BrandWeek:

“There's a big trend in general around having confidence in the foods that you eat. People over the age of 35, whose frequency with pizza is declining, said one of the big things that would reignite their passion with the category is to have a pizza made with multigrain crust and an all natural tomato sauce...

Design is a great way to create an emotional expression for your brand. But the pizza category has been a real laggard in doing that. Our red box is a game changer in packaging and design. And yes, we're also introducing another vocabulary word with Pizza Hut, which is 'The Hut.' That ties in nicely with (today's) texting generation. We wanted to make sure that Pizza Hut and 'The Hut' become common vernacular for our brand. Red is our mark and when you see that red roof, people will refer to it as 'The Hut' or 'Pizza Hut.' As we expand our online and mobile businesses, 'The Hut' is the perfect icon for our mobile generation.”

Additionally, Pizza Hut is introducing Hut TV, an in-store video channel that allows customers to watch shows like Wheel of Fortune and Entertainment Tonight while eating.

Instead of putting this rebrand on blast (like I have a tendency to do), I opted to offer some quick observations of mine. Then to add insights into other consumer’s reactions, I will highlight some of the comments that I’ve seen popping up on popular social media sites in a follow-up post tomorrow.

My Initial thoughts:

  • “The Hut” may be shorter, therefore easier to text, but dropping one word in a text, one that’s in my phone’s predictive text anyway, is not going to affect a purchase decision. Now if you had an iPhone app for quick orders, that’d be a completely different story.
  • The first thing any Gen X or Gen Y consumer thinks of when hearing The Hut (especially male consumers) is Jabba The Hutt from Star Wars. The second thing they think of, is Pizza the Hutt from Spaceballs. If you’re trying to associate your brand with a healthier image, why is the first thing I think about when I hear your new brand name, a 4000 pound, drooling alien?
  • Pizza is about convenience and price, it’s rarely about a dining experience (outside kid’s soccer parties). As Gen Y consumers, we’re not going to be dining in, but out. Make it more convenient to order; don’t try and entice us to dine in with Hut TV.
  • Address both cost and convenience by ditching the store front, and have more stores like a Dominos where all they do is deliver. Make a phone app for easier ordering. With the money you’re saving on the lease, buy healthier or even organic products and differentiate your brand that way. Convenience and Organic = Gen Y = increased sales.
--Now Let Me Clear My Throat--
Josh Groth

1 comment:

Ken Peters said...

Josh,

The Jabba the Hut and Pizza the Hut anology is spot-on. I'm a 38-year-old male who grew up with Star Wars and that's immediately where my mind went, too.

I agree that pizza is a convenience food, not a "night out" food. However, a savvy chain could make casual dine-in a fit with pizza. Many have. I agree that a self-branded faux TV network isn't going to add much value. Essentially, what their saying is that instead of having us bring the pizza to you so you can watch mind-numbing television like Wheel of Fortune in the comfort of your own home we're going go broadcast it for you in our restaurants, along with ad after ad for pizza hut items.

There is no consumer value-add to that.

There really does seem to be a trailer park mentality to this, but perhaps it speaks to their demographic. They might as well have spaces in the parking lot to park you double-wide.

I like your ideas of developing ordering apps and focusing on consumer value-adds that enhance the convenience aspect, which is of course the primary experiential attribute of this brand.

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