In the U.S. pizza is casual, feet-on-the-coffee-table grub, but Japanese diners are dropping $50 on pies from Domino’s, following a big marketing push by the American pizza chain to rebrand the collegiate staple as haute holiday fare. For fifty bucks, diners aren’t just getting a plain — or even pepperoni — pie: They’re getting pizza topped with luxury ingredients like foie gras.
AdAge magazine explains how Domino’s 210 Japanese locations succeeded in winning over diners with zany viral marketing stunts combined with upscale variations that might seem strange to American palates.
For instance, AdAge points to a $50 pie the brand calls the “Prestige Quattro.” It has a different topping on each quarter, most of which seem like sumptuous, if odd, pairings for tomato sauce topped with melted mozzarella: snow crab and shrimp gratin, heirloom-breed pork with Bordeaux sauce, and beef stew. (The fourth quarter of the pie has conventional margherita topping.)
The online menu on Domino’s Japanese website has several other creations, also in the $40 to $50 price range, with toppings that range from shrimp with bechamel sauce to potatoes topped with mayonnaise. These wild offerings are combined with a precise attention to detail. “Patrons expect every slice to have precisely the same amount of toppings. … Shrimp, for example, are angled with the tails pointing the same way,” AdAge says.
The combination seems to have won over diners in spite of the sky-high prices. “Christmas Eve, the most popular day of the year to share a pie with family and friends, is big business for Domino’s,” the article says, and the chain’s same-store sales in Japan are up three years running.
Another holiday targeted by the chain is Valentine’s Day: It cranks out heart-shaped pizzas presented in pink, heart-shaped boxes. (Here, the idea of a guy presenting his sweetheart with a Valentine’s pizza sounds more like a sitcom plot device than the beginning of a romantic date.)
Is there anything that could get you to fork over $50 for a pizza?