The 5,103-unit chain's latest limited-time offer is an order of 10 fresh-baked hot brownies and fudge dipping sauce delivered free with the purchase of a large full-price pizza. (The stand-alone price for brownies ranges from $2.50 to $4 per order.)
"Everyone loves dessert; everyone loves brownies," said a spokeswoman for Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Domino's. While she wouldn't give details, the spokeswoman said the product, introduced Aug. 14, is doing well enough that it may become a permanent menu item. If so, the brownies would become Domino's second dessert offering, joining Cinna Stix, breadsticks covered with a butter-like product, cinnamon, sugar and icing.
To introduce the product (formally called Oven Baked Brownie Squares), Domino's created a brown cube-shaped character named Fudgems and a fudgems.com Web site featuring games and downloads. In television commercials, Fudgems leaves a chocolate mess on fans reaching out to hug him.
The product arrives at a time when there's a gap in pizza-delivery desserts, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic, Inc., the Chicago-based restaurant research firm. "There aren't a lot of desserts available," save for dessert pizzas, Tristano said. Part of the problem is operational: Ice cream, for instance, won't deliver well without hot-and-cold compartments in the delivery cars.
Domino's capitalizes on its delivery system with the hot dessert offerings: "It fits the brand," Tristano said. He added, however, that even if the brownies cool off, they remain a viable dessert product.
Tristano deemed the free-with-purchase introduction a good way to test the brownies, and to differentiate Domino's from its pizza competitors. As for the price, "one of the most powerful words in advertising is 'free,'" Tristano said. "My guess is that they won't be free for long."