Monday, September 7, 2009

It's not just the best Pizza Pizza! that wins.

An odd thing has been happening lately. Rarely do you ever see a prominent brand disappear, then come back and be successful. However, national brand Little Caesars (remember them?) disappeared and is now returning from the brink.

As a little boy there were three pizza places near my house: a small local chain, a Pizza Hut and a Little Caesars. The local pizza place, Pontillo's, had the best product and was the only survivor in that local pizza battle.

Then Little Caesars and Pizza Hut both disappeared around 1995 or 1996 and was missing in action for at least a decade. I didn't see a Little Caesars outside of a Kmart until 2007 when I was living in South Bend, Indiana. Then more and more started popping up all over and last month a Little Caesars opened in the exact location that it occupied back in the day. However, today they're now seven pizza places within three blocks of their door.

Even though competition among pizza places has grown, Little Caesars has been able to make a comeback because of an intense focus on their convenient $5 Hot-N-Ready pizza pick-up operation. Therefore, even though Little Caesars does not have the best tasting pizza, this focus on convenience, speed and price has brought the brand back from the brink.

My point is that one item can have many different benefits and one brand cannot own all of them. Different companies can accentuate certain benefits of the product and still own the category. Domino's built an empire on delivery. Little Caesars rediscovered success with convenience and price. Nowhere did either of them talk taste- they were too busy selling you the invisible.

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