How Pizza Hut used qualitative market research to help drive business change

11th March 2015

pizza hut logo

The total eating out market will reach £82.8bn this year.  Growth in this sector is hard won:  not only is there a plethora of branded chains for diners to choose from, there is also a desire from diners for a holistic experience when they eat out.

Pizza Hut Restaurants has been on our high street since 1973 and is one of the best known pizza brands in the world.  In the 70’s the brand was responsible for introducing significant innovation to our high streets but had become unloved and overlooked as an expanding casual dining landscape introduced ever more high quality and innovative alternatives.

In response, Pizza Hut embarked on a £60M programme of refurbishment.  Our research concentrated on understanding the ‘sticky-ness’ : what elements of the refurbishment were driving talk-ability?  To get to the heart of the issue we used a combination of narrated store walks, menu pre-placement and accompanied dinner dates.  We understood the impact of the holistic experience on the brand experience : American style diner design, cartoon art,  impactful lighting and the introduction of alcohol all resulted in higher dwell time.  The knock on effect was menu initiatives which weren’t new felt new when experienced in a new setting.

Bringing the findings to life through vox pops and narrated store walks gave Pizza Hut Restaurants a visual story to share with their Investors : critical to securing additional  funding to extend the refurbishment programme.

Putting the customer at the heart of the brand’s makeover has resulted in rave reviews  : The Mail online declaring that the brand has gone POSH : calling out how the brand is now giving existing and new diners a whole new experience.  Our work with Pizza Hut Restaurants is testament to the power of qualitative research in driving business change.  Sales figures tell the most powerful story : the refurbished restaurants are enjoying sustained sales uplifts in excess of 30%.