CMO50 2016 #1: Allan Collins, Domino's Pizza

  • Name Allan Collins
  • Title Group chief marketing officer
  • Company Domino's Pizza Enterprises
  • Commenced role January 2007
  • Reporting Line Group CEO and MD
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 50 staff, 6 direct reports
  • Industry Sector FMCG
  • 2015 ranking 6
  • Related

    Brand Post

    There are plenty of shiny new digital and technology breakthroughs on offer to brands today looking for an edge, and Domino’s is using lots of them.

    In just the last 12 months, the company has launched dozens of new technology fuelled offerings, stretching from a geo-location based customer tracking service, called On Time Cooking, to zero-click and SMS ordering and the world’s first commercial autonomous delivery vehicle, named DRU. These “disruptive digital initiatives” saw Domino’s chalk up a
    record double-digit increase in network sales to $1.96 billion for the year to 3 July 2016, alongside a 43.6 per cent rise in net profits.

    But its CMO, Allan Collins, says such innovations are only worthwhile to Domino’s if they help the organisation be a better food company and serve its customers. “It’s not tech for tech’s sake, it’s about how to make consumers’ lives easier,” he says.

    “Of course there’s the behind-the-scenes stuff – such as how we increase the speed of data – but I’m more focused on the consumer side. It’s about what tension we are removing for the consumer. We all go through those negative moments when we’re interacting with a brand. They’re not that hard to identify, so for us, it’s about looking at those tensions and removing them using technology.”

    Equally, Collins says removing customer pain points is what drives his teams to constantly disrupt themselves in order to do things better. “If you don’t work at this internally, you’ll face the pressure externally,” he says. “What we’re very proud of is building a culture that is constantly looking at how to do things differently, more simply for the customer, and how I can do my job more quickly or easier.”

    Working to a better context

    Location, context and real-time insight have been the cornerstones of improving customer experiences at Domino’s in recent years. In 2015, the group launched its biggest ever transformation to pizza delivery in 2015: GPS drive tracker technology, which was initially designed to keep drivers safe, but has since become a clever way for customers to track their order from store to door. In June, Collins spearheaded the extension of location services with On Time Cooking, a solution which uses real-time geo-location data to ensure pick-up customers receive a fresher, hotter pizza straight from the oven. The opt-in service ensure the cooking process doesn’t begin until after the customer has physically entered a pre-determined ‘cooking zone’, and also factors in their mode of transport.

    Tracking customers might be seen to cross the creepiness line by some, but Collins says the important thing is that it’s opt-in and value-driven. “As a consumer, I would do that with Uber, or Google Maps, and it doesn’t bother me at all,” he says. “If you don’t want to be tracked, don’t be tracked, but if you are, we will give you a hotter, fresh pizza.”

    The objective is ultimately to improve the experience of Domino’s products. “You’ve just got to look at what’s right for your business, and whether it adds value to the consumer or not,” Collins advises. “If it’s hazy or consumers don’t understand, don’t do it. We’re tracking consumers to give them a better experience, it’s that clear.”

    Alongside GPS-based capabilities, Domino’s now polls customers at the end of the order process, asking them questions on everything from whether they like anchovies to who they think should be Australia’s next prime minister. This data and insight gives the team rich information on hundreds of thousands of customers and is opening up both new ways of engagement as well as new business streams.

    What’s also vital in Collins’ book is that marketing keeps things both simple and pure for consumers, and his advice to staff has always been to “keep the noise out”. “It’s easy if you’re painting a picture to keep adding and adding, but the skilled artist is the one who achieves simplicity,” he comments.

    Social status

    Another key part of Domino’s contextual arsenal is social media. Collins cites three key things the brand is actively using social currently. The first is customer care, and engaging with consumers to gain feedback on products and experiences. Today, Domino’s maintains a 24-hour moderation team and has cut response times down from 30 minutes 12 months ago to less than 20 minutes in 2016.

    The second impetus is media targeting and relevance, and Collins highlights targeting capabilities within Facebook as key to engaging in real time and on the consumer’s terms.

    “Today, these channels can tell you what audience is on your page, watching your communications, how long they watch it for and when, who they are, where they are coming from and when,” he says. “I want to communicate in different ways to different people. If I’m a vegetarian, I don’t want to see a meat pizza, for example.

    “We also don’t want to be annoying. If you’re a mother who loves chocolate, we’ll talk to you about our chocolate lava cake, but if you hate chocolate, we’ll talk to you about something else. I love that we can be so targeted with messages that are relevant to those customers.”

    The third way Domino’s uses social is to drive authenticity. “With Facebook, we can put behind-the-scenes footage up, such as a 60-second video, which explains to them why we do the things we do,” Collins says. “That gives people real insights into the business.”

    Getting cross-functional alignment

    None of this work would be possible without strong cross-functional alignment between CMO, IT and digital teams, and Collins says all three have built trust-based relationships that encourage and facilitate collaboration. Importantly, both the CIO and chief digital officer come to marketing’s critical meetings around the consumer to understand what it is the brand is trying to do.

    Another thing that’s helped is building a two-year but flexible calendar for marketing activities upheld by Collins’ team and shared across divisions. “Dates can change and if IT can’t deliver on the project, I can change programs and the calendar around,” he says. “That flexibility in planning is a big thing. There’s so much pressure on IT to deliver by a certain time, and that’s where tension erupts. We have deliberately built flexibility into the calendar to cope with that.

    “The other thing is everyone is focused on how to make it relevant to the consumer. It’s a single-minded view. All teams see the bigger picture, which is vital.”

    Meanwhile, agility in marketing has been improved by bringing in all agency functions in-house, from public relations to media buying. This empowers Domino’s internal employees to perform tasks faster and most cost-effectively than ever before, Collins says. By focusing on outcomes and results, rather than the process of how a job gets done, the marketing team is able to remove a lot of red tape and just get cracking.

    Domino’s product development team reports directly into marketing, which again ensures more strategic alignment and strengthens marketing’s role as a key growth contributor.

    Over the past 12 months, the two teams have embraced a pretotyping process to test demand for different products before introducing them to market. Collins says this is saving the group millions of dollars and ensures the company gives customers want they actually want, without harming the brand image.

    “We know before we launch, whether it’s product, technology or campaign, if it’s going to be successful or not because consumers have told us,” he says. “You want to deal with data versus opinion. That’s why I love this.”

    As well as ascertaining what people want upfront, this type of testing also ensures there’s no wastage, Collins adds.

    Holding on to culture

    While the channels and technologies being used might be new, one of the things that hasn’t changed in Collins’ approach during his 10 years at Domino’s is his desire to protect its entrepreneurial culture. As staff numbers have grown, Collins has remained actively involved in hiring every employee, checking they’re the right fit and can operate in a way that’s conducive to the wider group’s brand values.

    “When I joined the marketing team we had four people, now it’s over 50. I’ve worked in businesses that have lost that culture as they grew and I don’t want that to happen here,” he says.

    Recently, Collins closed down the whole marketing team for three days and took them offsite in order to create marketing values that the whole team can abide by, and what rules and standards are important to hold onto.

    “It was really encouraging that all the things in my mind was what they agreed on – we want to be agile, accountable, have speed to market, attention to detail, avoid bureaucracy, celebrate wines and promote from within,” he says. “These are the same values from 10 years and I’m keen to protect that.

    “It’s the same with our insights team – when they present, I want everyone that leaves that room to the same understanding. And I want things to be simple and powerful – again, something that’s hard to as an insights team. But less is more and that’s what we’re striving for.”

    Share this article