LOUISVILLE, KY. — Pizza Hut has a new focus going forward. Its parent company, Yum! Brands, is going to “double down on easy,” said Greg Creed, chief executive officer.
Easy, Mr. Creed said during Yum! Brands’ annual investor conference on Dec. 10, is “the new dimension” for disruptive brands. He cited Uber and Amazon as examples.
|Greg Creed, c.e.o. of Yum! Brands|
“We need to make it easier to access our brands,” Mr. Creed said. “We need to make it easier to order. We need to make it easier to pay. We need to make it easier to track.”
A recent innovation built on the premise of “easy” is expected to help lift sales at Pizza Hut. The Triple Treat Box features two medium one-topping pizzas, an order of breadsticks and a dessert for $19.95.
“This will drive us to have the best quarter at Pizza Hut U.S. that we’ve had in the last three years,” Mr. Creed said. “And this is about easy. This is easy to order. You don’t have to think about, ‘Do I want two, three, how many toppings, what the heck do I want?’ It’s easy on my wallet, and it’s easy for us to actually deliver in this carryall.”
The Triple Treat Box is a departure from last year’s ambitious menu overall, dubbed the Flavor of Now, which included the addition of 10 new crust flavors, 6 sauces and 11 recipes.
“The results have been mixed since we launched that program,” said David Gibbs, c.e.o. of Pizza Hut. “… the biggest issue we had is we just didn’t make it easy enough to access the new flavors and ingredients. We rolled out some great recipes that consumers loved, but as you can see from that price point, they were all sold at menu price. We had a belief that we would be able to charge a real premium for these new flavors and ingredients, and the marketplace told us we couldn’t do that. We needed more value.”
Another problem with Pizza Hut’s approach?
“We saw a big uptick in millennials using our brands … but it was too targeted,” Mr. Gibbs said. “It didn’t appeal to our broad consumers. So whatever we gained with a certain set of consumers we lost back on the broader consumer base and ended up, net, back where we were.”
Bottom line: “Particularly in the U.S., we have missed on easy,” Mr. Gibbs said.
Pizza Hut’s new plans involve improved value, speedier delivery and enhanced digital technology. Smaller initiatives designed to shorten service times include new packaging that enables employees to cut pizzas or sauce chicken wings directly in the box or bowl.
“Things like that that don’t sound sexy or exciting make a difference in service times in your restaurants,” Mr. Gibbs said.
After more than two years of same-store sales declines, Pizza Hut’s performance in the United States is slowly improving.“We’ve been caught a little bit in focusing on getting our brand to be better, but behind the scenes we are working on how we fix the easy part of the equation,” Mr. Gibbs said. “Our mission is really clear throughout the world: It’s to make it easier to get a better pizza. And that really is informing everything we do, everything our teams do. You will see it impact our innovation, our digital experiences. We’ve added usability experts to our teams, all the things you would think that you would do to win on easy are undergoing in our business right now.”