Industry News | November 24, 2014 | QSR Exclusive Brief

CiCi’s Rebrand Gets Help from the Experts: Customers

image used with permission.

A little over a year ago, CiCi’s Pizza realized it had a problem. Through its own research, help from third-party data, and consumer feedback, the Texas-based concept discovered it was in need of a rebrand.

Executives wanted the rebrand to help return CiCi’s to the tried and true restaurant basics of quality, cleanliness, and service. And to get it right, it sought help from the experts: its customers.

CiCi’s monitored social media platforms to see what kind of direct feedback guests had about the brand. Before instituting new policies, the company put its ideas on social media as a way of crowdsourcing the rebrand. This allowed the company to guarantee guest approval of the changes while making sure that CiCi’s was dialed in on exactly what the customers wanted.

“We started throwing these different ideas on social media to say, ‘OK, here’s what we’re thinking about, do you guys agree?’ And they did,’” says Darin Harris, CEO of CiCi’s Pizza.

Changes included a cleanliness initiative, as well as menu innovations and ingredient enhancements. Starting in September, CiCi’s took a group that included Harris and members of the operations and marketing teams across the country to jumpstart the rebrand. The group implemented new systems and training materials, and helped excite employees from the unit level on up about the initiative.

The new rebrand—dubbed CiCi’s “Remarkable Product Movement”—also included a revamped salad bar and higher-quality ingredients used for the majority of its pizzas, such as 100 percent all-natural cheese and more meat toppings.

CiCi’s launched its new ingredient and recipe changes on November 3, and also debuted a new social media and on-air advertising campaign. Leading up to the launch, CiCi’s asked guests to interact on social media using the hashtag #PizzaMyMind to share their ideas on what menu changes they wanted. Though it’s only a couple weeks into the initiative, Harris says the brand has already received tremendous feedback.

He adds that customers aren’t necessarily happy about a single menu innovation. Instead, they’re more excited that the changes they wanted are actually taking place.

“The biggest thing is that they’re telling us that they’ve noticed,” Harris says. “That’s been the best part, because through this campaign, we wanted to tell people, ‘We’ve noticed that you’ve noticed.’”

CiCi’s will continue to use consumer feedback in 2015. Beginning next year, the pizza buffet expects to introduce social media–suggested menu innovations as limited-time offerings in its stores nationwide. 

By James Stramm

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