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How Pizza Hut Crushes Customer Loyalty Through Localization

We’ve got another brand success for you, and this one is iconic – Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut was founded in 1958 in Wichita, Kansas, and has more than 18,700 locations worldwide. When it comes to localized marketing for Pizza Hut, it’s no easy task. George Felix, chief marketing officer of Pizza Hut since January 2020, Felix has been putting his marketing mastermind to work for Pizza Hut’s Yum! Brands for over five years. When it comes to developing an effective localized marketing strategy for Pizza Hut, Felix has a lot on his plate.


Felix spoke with SOCi’s own Rob Reed as a part of his Clicks 2 Bricks podcast series. Throughout the conversation, Felix discusses his time as CMO at Pizza Hut and shares what work he’s done to revitalize Pizza Hut’s brand, which you can then use to incorporate into your business’s own localized marketing efforts


Revitalizing Pizza Hut’s Brand


When Felix and a few other key executives joined Pizza Hut, they were charged with revitalizing a brand that had fallen on hard times. Their first order of business: a trip to Wichita, Pizza Hut’s birthplace, to connect with some of the long-time franchisees. Felix wanted to tap into what Pizza Hut was all about by getting back to its roots. What he learned from the veteran franchise partners kept coming back to Pizza Hut’s iconic pizzas that consumers couldn’t get anywhere else.


After working with a strategic agency, Pizza Hut decided to focus on being the pizza for pizza lovers. After meeting with the various franchisees, Felix and his team determined this “north star” branding concept and told their local franchisees to think about local marketing campaigns and ask themselves why a pizza lover would love this campaign? After thinking about why pizza lovers choose Pizza Hut, the idea of “newstalgia” was born. Newstalgia creates an old-is-new-again approach that celebrates the brand’s unique history. It’s putting a fresh and modern twist on things.


While you might not need to revamp your multi-location business’s entire localized marketing strategy, you can think about ways to revitalize your approach as Pizza Hut did. It’s essential to keep your local business locations in the loop when making these changes to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding marketing efforts and goals. Whether your efforts are performing well or you are hoping for better results, there’s always room for improvement with localized marketing.


How Pizza Hut Fared Throughout the Pandemic


While Pizza Hut decided to use the newstalgia campaign idea to connect with local audiences with fond memories of Pizza Hut, they had to re-think some of their marketing efforts when the pandemic hit. For instance, Pizza Hut had to share what precautions were being taken to keep both employees and customers healthy and safe. Although the pandemic through a wrinkle in Pizza Hut’s original localized marketing plans, Felix would describe Pizza Hut’s brand as gaining momentum. In fact, Q4 of 2020 was the brand’s best quarterly performance in a decade. Pizza Hut was fortunate to have delivery and curbside efforts before the pandemic hit. Still, the multi-location business did have to find safe ways to bring their employees to work and secure ways to make and deliver the pizza.


Felix also noted that the pizza industry was a good business during the pandemic because pizza can feed a large group or family and is also considered comfort food. While Pizza Hut did have advantages amid the pandemic, they had to stay on top of innovation from a marketing and advertising standpoint to beat competitors. Pizza Hut’s new nationwide initiatives included the launch of plant-based pizzas made with Beyond meat and Detroit-style deep dish pizzas.


As you can see, Pizza Hut is always looking for ways to improve and innovate the products they serve. This is a good tactic for all multi-location marketers looking to dominate their industry. Through tools like social listening or actively engaging on local social channels, your multi-location business can stay on top of upcoming trends and be one of the first to test a movement or localized marketing campaign. That is what Pizza Hut has done with both the plant-based and deep-dish pizzas, and they’ve found great success.


Pizza Huts Builds Customer Loyalty 


Besides being innovative and a nationally recognized brand, Pizza Hut also prides itself on customer loyalty. Like many multi-location businesses, Pizza Hut deals with customer churn. Building loyalty is no easy task. Felix knows that one of the best ways to engage and retain customers is through loyalty programs like Hut Rewards. With this program, Pizza Hut is trying to strike the right balance between providing value to customers that keeps them coming back and offering a rewards program that keeps them from using any other pizza competitors.


While the rewards program is one way to maintain loyal customers, Felix realizes that it takes more than that. Felix found that there was a lot of room for improvement around Pizza Hut’s brand consistency. When you hear from Pizza Hut on one platform, it may sound different than when you heard from it on another channel or a different location. Pizza Hut is trying to work on consistent messaging and ensuring all their business locations are on the same page regarding who their target customers are and how they will appeal to them.


A television ad or social post coming from one brand location should feel very similar to a social post that you see from a different site across the country. As a multi-location business, brand consistency is vital. Consumers should be able to recognize your business across various channels and locations. If a consumer can recognize your brand across multiple platforms and sites, they will be more likely to remember your business when it comes time to make a purchase, increasing your customer loyalty. Along with messaging, including similar profile pictures and using agreed-upon brand guidelines is also key to maintaining brand consistency. For more information on how your multi-location business can work to improve your business’s brand consistency like Pizza Hut, check out our blog on the topic.


Start Improving Your Localized Marketing Efforts 


Felix’s focus to improve and strengthen Pizza Hut’s localized marketing efforts has paid off. By building a connection with franchisees, Pizza Hut has increased sales even amid the pandemic while increasing customer loyalty. As a multi-location marketer, you can take a page out of Pizza Hut’s book. Through a hybrid approach that focuses on corporate and local efforts, your multi-location business can reach your target audiences with both messages from corporate and local business locations.


While developing a localized marketing strategy across 100s or 1,000s of business locations can be difficult, Pizza Hut has proven it’s worth the effort. Whether your multi-location business is looking to improve your local social efforts, build brand consistency, or streamline efforts at both the corporate and local level, SOCi is here to help. SOCi is the central command for localized marketing and the all-in-one platform for your localized marketing needs. For more information on how your business can find success similar to Pizza Hut’s, request a demo today! It’s time to level up your localized marketing efforts and win more customers.



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