Dominos Italy: Veni Vidi Arrivederci

in August, US-based Dominos shuttered its 30 or so outlets in Italy. Qu’elle surprise! Or not.

You could easily imagine the internal debate, eg

1. our Master Franchise partner will add local legal, regulatory, employee management & cultural savvy;

2. if we can make it in Italy, it says terrific things about how authentic and globally revered our product is.

Alas, “No dice” said the Italian prospects. And a very public failure to be given the boot from… The Boot.

Would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the launch prep sessions! I’ve no doubt much work was done before launch; yet they fully failed to understand consumer attitudes/receptivity. How can that happen?

Here are a few possible ideas from a cranky old warrior who saw several well resourced, well paced firms blow their offshore expansions:

  1. They did OK research but ignored the findings. This isn’t as unusual as you might think, esp if the launch takes on ‘project momentum’. To raise your hand & question an inertia project is to risk being labelled a naysayer, a barrier, etc – perhaps get fired.
  2. The project had a ‘supported’ sponsor. A USA tissue company tasked its Darden-Wharton KantMissKidz to a European bath tissue expansion. They were given specific info about necessary steps to take & barriers to avoid, but ignored all of that advice, and blew the launch. Even STILL, another group got blamed.
  3. The executed plan differed from the test plan; perhaps the price structure was revised late in he game, to adjust for Supply Chain or Exchange Rate challenges, or a media campaign was ‘trimmed’ to a fraction of its intended spend. This happens- a lot!
  4. The research was flawed. They may have used a skewed Sample &/or wrong research methods to find consumer interest/ identification. Or leading questions. Or poorly chosen survey question/ response options. Or the research medium/ venue itself created an atmosphere where respondents felt social pressure to reply in the affirmative.

You & I will never see the detailed ‘post-mortem’ of what went wrong. Even if you found such an account,, don’t necessarily believe a word of it. I guarantee you that in a Big Org such as Dominos, the backstabbing & blame reallocation maneuvering has been fast & furious ever since this Star started to look like a Dog. Careers have been lost – and probably not by those who deserved it.

But that’s a subject for another day- as is “Does pineapple really belong on a pizza?”

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