Domino’s Pizza has introduced Specialty Chicken, its first new product since the introduction of Handmade Pan Pizza in September 2012 and its first offering since implementing a strategy of “fewer, better” menu introductions.

The product starts with 12 pieces of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based chain’s boneless chicken and includes layers of Domino’s sauces, cheeses and pizza toppings to create four varieties of the side item: Crispy Bacon & Tomato, Spicy Jalapeño-Pineapple, Classic Hot Buffalo and Sweet BBQ Bacon.

Specialty Chicken will be available in Domino’s $5.99 mix-and-match value offer that also lets customers select the chain’s pastas, sandwiches and medium, two-topping pizzas.


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Domino's promotes its Specialty Chicken

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“We are proud to be known as a pizza company, but Specialty Chicken shows we are not afraid to step out of our comfort zone and take risks, something that is truly part of our brand fabric,” chief marketing officer Russell Weiner said in a statement. “Not every risk we have taken has turned out to be successful, but as a brand we have learned that sometimes you have to fail in order to be great.”

Domino’s national TV commercials for Specialty Chicken carry that exact theme of “Failure is an option,” once again featuring Domino’s corporate chefs describing the research and development process for the new item and admitting past missteps.

Speaking to investors late last year during Domino’s third-quarter earnings call, chief executive Patrick Doyle declared, “We are not in the product-of-the-month club anymore,” meaning the new items or limited-time offer launches would be more spaced out and ideally more impactful.

“We think that what we’re doing is building overall brand momentum by focusing on fewer, bigger things that are truly improving the experience for our customers,” he said. “We’ve definitely got the pipeline as we’ve slowed some of the pace of new-product launches that actually has been a very positive thing for us. It helps with execution in the stores, and it helps us make sure that the things that we are launching, we’ve got right.”

He added during the call that Domino’s would look to leverage its digital marketing and ordering platforms further to market new or limited-time items after advertising them on national TV. For the rollout of Specialty Chicken, the chain is giving away 25,000 orders of the item to fans who enter a special contest on its Facebook page.

One of the last times Domino’s introduced a new side item, the rollout of Parmesan Bread Bites in February 2012, its financial results were positive but slightly mixed. In the first and second quarters of 2012, Domino’s same-store sales in the United States rose within its long-term guided range between 1 percent and 3 percent, and profit margins also ticked up, but order counts declined a slight, unspecified amount.

Domino’s operates or franchises nearly 5,000 locations in the United States and more than 5,500 restaurants in 70 international markets.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN