Ovenstory Pizza is a disruptor in the pizza category: Rahul Goyal

Unlike most categories, food has been a priority during the pandemic period. Confined to homes and working and studying from home, food delivery brands, which remained active throughout the lockdown period, have been providing people a welcome break from the monotony of ghar ka khana.

With safety and hygiene gaining paramount importance during these times, food brands pivoted their operations, even as they strove to cater to consumers’ demand for unique flavours. Food brands have also had to find solutions to the problems of logistics and safe delivery to consumers’ doorsteps.

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Regardless of age, a pizza always finds many takers and encourages consumption with one’s family and friends. In these challenging pandemic times, Ovenstory Pizza, a home-grown pizza brand, has been crafting a remarkable success story. Seizing the opportunity that cropped up during the lockdown period, Ovenstory Pizza relied on product innovation and increased engagement with consumers to grab a bigger share of the market and increase its brand equity. Products like Semizza, a semi-circle shaped pizza meant for individual consumption, contributed to over 20% of Ovenstory Pizza’s net sales in September 2020 alone by enhancing the proposition of ‘The Standout Pizza’.

In conversation with Adgully, Rahul Goyal, General Manager, Ovenstory Pizza, Rebel Foods, take us through the remarkable journey of the brand, the innovations and media strategies that were crafted for effective branding during the pandemic, emerging trends in consumer behaviour, the importance of offering a cohesive brand experience to customers, and more.

What has been your communication and media strategy for the past year (FY2021)?

Ovenstory Pizza has always had innovation at the core of its product development. We are disruptors in this category and it reflects in not just the messaging, but also in our offerings to delight customers and enhance their experience. Our focus has always been to address the pain points of our customers and hence, our communication is focused on addressing these and helping our consumers know why Ovenstory Pizza is the standout pizza.

In all our communication to our customers, we bring out our USPs which are the four unique flavours of cheese, less crust, more toppings, a first of its kind personal pizza called – Semizza, and some great offers that we have all year around. We are also the only brand that offers a unique party experience, which includes Pizzas, Desserts, Beverages and a beautiful and useful party bag.

Our recent campaign that went on air in May focuses on some of the unique innovations (Semizza, Pizzas with Less Crust & More Toppings, Pizzas with 4 Exotic Cheese Flavours, and Pizzas with Standout Offers) at Ovenstory Pizza that truly make it ‘The Standout Pizza’. While adults are often set in their ways, children are the ones who ask questions and challenge the status quo, much like Ovenstory Pizza. Each film of the campaign has children as the brand protagonists who ask questions to everyday pizza problems such as too much crust & too less toppings, the lack of options to choose half pizzas, etc. and then offer Ovenstory as the standout solution.

How have seized the opportunity during the lockdown to grow your portfolio of products and cater to new segments?
We are focused on constantly building products and categories that will help address our customer needs. Before COVID-19 struck us, we had only one-size pizzas, but when the lockdown was announced subsequently it gave us an opportunity to help us expand into segments that cater to single person orders. The Semizza category – which is a semi-circular shaped personal pizza – has been an instant hit in the category. Curiously, Semizza also helps us play differently in the group ordering segment, wherein consumers can choose their own individual pizza instead of sharing the same medium pizza. Semizza has scaled up pan India from September 2020 and since then it has helped contribute to 20% of the overall net sales for Ovenstory. The product ratings on Semizza are also higher than the brand average rating, making it a standout product for us. Apart from Semizza, we have built an innovation pipeline for the next 8 quarters and are currently piloting various unique flavours that would help further enhance the proposition of Ovenstory as ‘The Standout Pizza’.

For your category, what were the significant trends in consumer behaviour?

Unlike many other food categories, the Pizza category was considered safe even during the peak of the pandemic as it is baked at a high temperature of 230 degrees as per WHO guidelines. This, coupled with the EatSure promise of quality, instilled faith in our customers. With a lot of people moving back home with their families, we observed that Pizza is a popular option for group occasions, and it continues to be a favourite among consumers who are with family during the ongoing pandemic. As much as we were able to pilot into the category that addresses people who stay alone, we saw big opportunities for group orders.

Some of the other things that we have noticed are that there is plenty of scope for innovation in the pizza dough. With newer and healthier flours being available, it has helped us to explore newer categories with the crust. A last observation, while authenticity is gaining prominence among pizza lovers, our customers want to see the use of best quality premium ingredients.

What are the new ideas for creating effective branding in a volatile world?
With the new normal, it is important for brands to keep in mind that food safety will be a priority. No matter how great a brand might be, if the safety concerns of the customers are not addressed, it will not leave an impact on the minds of the customers. To create effective branding, especially in the present volatility of the world, it is important for brand managers to keep the focus on what the customers want. At Rebel Foods and every brand that we have, the focus has always been on customer-first thinking. If a brand cannot clearly address the needs of the customers, then there will not be much scope for growth. Effective messaging is possible only when as a brand we can cater to the needs with innovation and assurance of quality. Brands must invest in innovation at the product level as much as they do on the marketing. At the end of the day, innovation and communication go together.

In an omnichannel world, how has the content role of Brand Manager been intensified?
There is a need for building brands that can stand the test of time. There is no set formula for doing this, but what we at Ovenstory Pizza believe and stand for is that we keep our customers at the heart of our decisions. We aim at building brands that are trusted and loved by our consumers. With so much content flooding across, it is imperative that the content that is created about the brand gains the attention of the customers. The role of the brand manager is to ensure development of relevant and high engagement content, without compromising on authenticity. If consumers find your content relevant, engaging and authentic, they will resonate with what the brand stands for and have a relationship with the brand that is beyond mere transactions.

Given the constant flux in consumer behaviour, especially in pandemic times, what is your go-to strategy to understand your customers’ unique wants and needs?
Being consumer-first means listening to consumers and starting from there. The ability to understand dynamically evolving consumer wants through various consumer led metrics that we monitor every day, and the agility to execute them through the operating system that is unique to Rebel Foods, is our go-to strategy to quickly understand and act on changing consumer trends.

We created brands that address what customers wanted. We have so much data on what the customers want and love and it is necessary that we listen to them. We do not try to fool our customers with any gimmicks. Our messaging is honest and always clear. That is why we were able to scale up and become the largest homegrown pizza brand in India.

(Edited and additional inputs by Shanta Saikia.)


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