Domino's is banking on mum guilt to boost sales

Domino's saladsDomino’sDomino’s salads

Domino’s is now delivering salad.

On Monday, the pizza chain announced that it had added prepackaged salad to the menu, making it the largest US pizza chain to deliver salads. Options include Classic Garden, Chicken Caesar, and chicken Apple Pecan, created by supermarket staple Ready Pac Foods.

Domino’s is pushing the salads as part of its mix-and-match menu, which offers any two or more options for $5.99 each, from a list including pizza, sandwiches, pasta, chicken, cheesy bread, and desserts. By convincing customers to order at least two things — instead of just a pizza — Domino’s is able to add at least a couple of dollars to customers’ orders.

Adding salad to the menu takes this “full meal” approach one step further at Domino’s, with the added bonus of allowing the pizza chain to be seen as a healthy (or healthier) option. That’s especially important if Domino’s wants to attract more families as customers.

Delivery chains such as Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, and Domino’s customers tend to skew younger and male. In the pizza industry, take-and-bake chain Papa Murphy’s is one of the few to focus close to 100% of its marketing on families.

Papa Murphy'sPapa Murphy’s/FacebookCustomers buy Papa Murphy’s pizzas at locations, then bake the pies at home.

Papa Murphy’s dominance is due to the fact the chain is a take-and-bake pizza chain, which, in the chain’s CEO Ken Caldwell’s words, allows parents (especially mothers) to feel they have earned the “credit” of cooking at home. Domino’s adding salad to the menu is a step in that direction, attempting to provide options for the entire family — especially for parents for whom dinner can become a stressful exercise in “mum guilt.”

Adding salad to the menu assuages that mum guilt, at least a little. However, the question remains — will anyone buy it?

Convincing mums that fast-food chains can be healthy choices for their families by adding new menu items is a dicey situation.

Despite vocal’ demands for healthier options, McDonald’s has struggled to convince customers actually buy salads. In McDonald’s case, the chain has found the most success not in debuting new menu items that are healthy in name only, such as iceberg lettuce-filled salads, but instead utilising higher quality ingredients, such as swapping butter for margarine in the McMuffin.

In the pizza business, other competitors are better known for quality ingredients than Domino’s. Papa Murphy’s take-and-bake strategy has endeared the chain to mothers, while Papa John’s invests $100 million a year in quality ingredients.

“We spend more,” Papa John’s president and COO, Steve Ritchie told Business Insider in June. “Quality isn’t cheap.”

Domino’s is improving its quality, but the pizza chain still has some way to go before it catches up with Papa John’s, which has topped the pizza industry in overall customer satisfaction for 15 out of the last 17 years, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

As definitions of health evolve, simply adding a salad to the menu isn’t enough to check off nutritional boxes. The ability to provide a full meal may help boost Domino’s sales — but the chain is relying on mum guilt triggering a last-minute salad add-on if it wants it salads to succeed.

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