Marketing in the times of COVID-19: Pizza Hut
Neha, Marketing Director, Pizza Hut IndiaPizza Hut India
Pizza Hut has launched a campaign called #QualityTimeNotQuarantine.

Marketing in the times of COVID-19: Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut has launched a campaign called #QualityTimeNotQuarantine.
  • In our latest interview series, we talk to brands to understand how they are coping with the new normal and their strategies towards navigating these difficult times.
  • As Pizza Hut starts offering contactless takeaway, we catch up with Neha, Marketing Director, Pizza Hut India to find out what else the brand has planned for this month.
Signing for deliveries is a thing of the past now. Contactless delivery and distant dining are becoming the new normal. Brands are trying to come up with new innovative ways to deliver their products to consumer’s doorstep. One such brand is Pizza Hut that has started offering Contactless Takeaways across all its operational stores in India.

After Contactless Takeaways, Neha, Marketing Director, Pizza Hut told us that the brand is now preparing for the future when consumers start stepping out. They are equipping all restaurant staff with gloves, masks and installing sanitizers in all stores to deploy a contactless dining model.

The brand has also seen an uptick in the demand for group deliveries. To make sure its consumers continue relying on them and to help them remain optimistic, Pizza Hut launched a campaign called #QualityTimeNotQuarantine.

Neha further shared with us a few measures they have taken to ensure the safety of their employees and consumers, what kind of tone a brand should go for to help their consumers trust them, where they should put their marketing monnies, and how Pizza Hut is contributing to society in these unprecedented days.


Q. How have the past few weeks been for the brand, considering the country has been in a lockdown?
Pizza Hut has been a trusted brand for over 24 years in India, and we have spent the past few weeks ensuring that we retain that ‘trust in every bite.’ Hence, we have upgraded all our existing stringent safety and hygiene processes across India. We have stringently implemented all regulatory protocols and guidelines issued from time to time by the government, WHO and FSSAI, such as thermal screening of employees and visitors, mandatory use of face masks, gloves, washing hands every 30 minutes and sanitizers and disinfecting all kitchen surfaces, food packing boxes, delivery bags and bikes. Our pizzas are baked at over 240 degree celsius for a minimum of 6 minutes which eliminates all viruses and bacteria. We have also put in place an oven-to-home Contactless process, wherein the cooked food is packed directly from the oven into disinfected boxes, without being touched by hand. The box is sealed with tamper-proof safety stickers. A Contactless Delivery system is then followed, wherein the Pizza Hut delivery executive places the packed food on a clean surface, near the doorstep of the customer and waits at a distance of 6 feet to make sure that the customer has picked up the order and no direct contact is established at any point ensuring safety of our customers and employees.

We have also launched Contactless takeaway option, which will allow our customers to place orders on the Pizza Hut app/m-site/website or visit us at our stores and order via menu board or disposable leaflets. The staff will place their order on the designated pre-sanitized Contactless Takeaway tables from where the customers can pick it up and exit. Our packaging includes sealing of every food box with tamper proof stickers which has become so relevant during these times. No direct contact will be established at any point in this process, ensuring safety of customers and employees.

With entire households being confined to their homes, we have seen a significant increase in cheque size on delivery orders, especially on orders meant for groups of people living together – in response, we have introduced great Value deals and combos on our delivery channel.

We are also taking this time to gear up for servicing consumers across dine-in, takeaway and delivery once the lockdown lifts. We are expecting a surge in deliveries and will introduce some new combos and deals on the delivery channel. Dine-in will pick up too as consumers will want to experience the sheer joy of eating out after a long time. In preparation, we are equipping all restaurant staff with gloves and masks and installing sanitizers in all stores at key touch points. Contactless dining model is also under consideration. Our long-term focus is on delivering a modern pizza experience to our customers by making our brand relevant, easy and distinctive.

Q. How are you training your employees to fight the current challenges?

We have a sizable training team which is using several in-person and digital tools to train employees as per the upgraded Safety and Hygiene norms. In addition, daily checks by store leads and quarterly inspection by area coaches are done to ensure that food safety, restaurant hygiene and brand standards are understood and implemented by all working staff.

Q. What kind of changes in demand have you seen lately?

As mentioned, we are seeing an uptick in delivery orders, especially on orders meant for groups of people living together. Consumers are aware of new best practices like Contactless Deliveries. They are relying on trusted brands like ours to offer them an oven-to-doorstep contactless process, right from placing the order digitally to receiving it at their doorstep, while ensuring the highest levels of Safety and Hygiene throughout.

Q. What is your marketing strategy right now? How have you been trying to continue building a connect with your audience?
These are uncertain times and consumers are expecting their concerns to be echoed in a relevant manner by brands that they rely on. We want consumers to uphold their trust in Pizza Hut, hence our marketing strategy is to be open about the safety and hygiene protocols being followed by the brand. We have been transparent about how the food is prepared, packed and delivered via our oven-to-doorstep Contactless Process, which in turn gives much needed assurance to customers that the food they are consuming has not been touched by any other hand.

We have also been running our #QualityTimeNotQuarantine campaign since the start of the lockdown to communicate the importance of staying indoors and urge people to look at the brighter side of being at home for an extended period. We even launched pizza-themed wallpapers to make video chats even more delightful and memorable.

Q. How is your brand making a difference in terms of spreading awareness? Have you taken any initiative to help the community?

Pizza Hut is committed to serve meals to medical and frontline staff at government hospitals across cities as part of COVID-19 relief initiatives in India. We have taken end-to-end responsibility of sourcing raw material, preparing, and delivering meals directly to 3 renowned government hospitals every day in Delhi, Pune, and Bangalore. We are exploring possibilities to expand the free meal service at government hospitals in other parts of the country. We have also been working in a similar way with on-ground authorities in a few cities to provide fresh and hygienic food to the frontline workers and people in need. Contributing to the society is not just our responsibility but we also feel joy when even our smallest contribution brings a smile on everyone’s face like recently Pizza Hut staff was delivering meals at hospitals in Bangalore, a few kids infected with COVID19 also requested for pizzas. Pizza Hut staff then took permission from supervising doctors and surprised the kids with their favorite pizzas. Seeing those kids smile gave us a sense of accomplishment

Q. TV viewership and digital engagement continue to increase, where are you betting your money?
Our focus is going to be entirely on digital channels as currently, millions of people are confined to their home and are craving to have the meal of their choice from their trusted brand. We have seen a 50% increase in cheque size on delivery orders, especially on orders meant for groups of people living together. We are geared to handle that surge with technology upgradations, oven-to-home contactless processes and delivery centric value deals. Given the situation, we have also enhanced our technology handles- Pizza Hut’s official website, M-site and the Mobile app.

Q. What are a few key learnings for you as a brand in the last few weeks?
We have seen this microbe levelling the playing field like never before, and irrespective of where your brand was placed in the pre-pandemic consumer perception curve, the quest to earn back the loyalty of consumers will start from ground zero. The big question, therefore, is how do we implement business models and communicate in a way that makes our customers feel safe, valued, and heard during this critical time and beyond. In my opinion, the answer lies in understanding and responding to the changed priorities of consumers, ensuring that our communication is sincere and not superficial or tone deaf, and most importantly, proving that we as a brand have adapted to meet the new expectations, and new ideas that will define the meaning of trust for the consumers of tomorrow.