The Surprising Audience That Responded to Pizza Hut's Rebranding

On November 19th 2014, Pizza Hut started to go through the biggest change in its business since it started over 56 years ago. The rebranding effort consisted of changes in almost all aspects of Pizza Hut’s identity. The change included a new menu, logo, website, and new packaging.
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(images via pizzahut.com)

After conducting research in the food preferences of millennials (people who are 15 years old to 35 years old), Jared Drinkwater, the VP of Marketing at Pizza Hut, said  “Americans are experimenting with more ethnic, original, organic and experimental flavors”, according to Digiday. In line with this findings, Pizza Hut’s new menu consists of 8 new crust flavors (including “honey sriracha” and “fiery red pepper) 5 new toppings (including fresh spinach and peruvian cherry peppers) and 6 new sauces.
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Millennial’s trend toward healthier eating has helped companies like Panera Bread and Chipotle to expand their businesses rapidly is partially responsible for the declining sales of other more glutinous fast food companies, including Pizza Hut. As part of Pizza Hut’s efforts to engage this generation, they also introduced the new “Skinny Slice” pizzas, that only have 250 calories or less per slice.

These changes were accompanied by the company’s largest ever advertising campaign, “The Flavor of Now”. Its goal was to promote Pizza Hut’s new exotic flavors and premium ingredients. The campaign includes humorous commercials, created by Deutsch LA, in addition to a big social media presence. The company used social media to build anticipation of the new flavors’ release.

Here at Crimson Hexagon, we used our ForSight ™ platform to explore insights surrounding the conversation about Pizza Hut’s new identity to find out what the public really thinks. The first thing we noticed was that the social media campaign effectively reached a large audience. From November 15th 2014 to November 20th 2014, the hashtag #pizzahaschanged was mentioned in more than 3,700 Twitter posts. We also found that after removing neutral conversation and/or news sharing, 90% of the conversation was strongly positive. It seems like pizza lovers are happy with the new offerings!


As part of our analysis, we also explored what else people involved in the conversation about Pizza Hut’s new identity are interested in. Using our crowd analysis, we found that these authors are 289 times more interested in high school, 38 times more interested in cocktails, 31 times more interested in celebrities, and 9 times more interested in weight loss than the general Twitter audience. Interestingly, we also found that they are 32 times more interested in pregnancy, 13 times more interested in parenting, and 8 times more interested in being a mom than the general Twitter audience. These findings drove us to the conclusion that the new offerings by Pizza Hut might not only be attracting Millennials, but also Millennial’s parents.
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Finally, we wanted to analyze the gender and age difference from people involved in the general Pizza Hut conversation before the introduction of the new identity and people involved in the new identity conversation. Our findings demonstrate how critical can insights from social media listening truly be. First, we found that there are 12% more males involved in the new identity conversation than in the general Pizza Hut conversation. As of now, it seems like males are more attracted to the new ethnic and experimental flavors by Pizza Hut than females. In this case, Pizza Hut should further research female preferences in ingredients and flavors and perhaps target them directly with future advertising campaigns. In terms of age, the biggest change was a surprising increase of 19% in people who are 35 years old or more.
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The fact that 29% of the people engaged in the conversation about Pizza Hut’s rebranding are over 35 years old in addition to their interests in parenting and pregnancy, gives us an idea of who is Pizza Hut’s new customer. Pizza Hut’s efforts to attract Millennials seem to have attracted the Generation X (people who are 35 years old to 55 years old) instead. Pizza Hut could use this information to change the direction of their campaign if they want to increase their Millennial customer base. On the other hand, since the new identity’s sentiment is strongly positive, they could decide to further engage Generation X customers.
Social media listening can help your company to learn who is talking about your brand and in which way. In terms of rebranding, like we learned with Pizza Hut, it can help evaluate how effective are your marketing efforts in reaching your target market and it can reveal who was actually reached. Branding changes in today’s business world are more complicated than ever and demand a deep analysis of your customers. Our Affinities ™ feature can help you further uncover the interests of your customers and give you detailed information that can serve as a foundation to make better and more informed marketing decisions in the future.
For additional rebranding insights from social data, we invite you to check out our American Airlines case study.

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