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 Read and analyze the case attached and answer the questions at the end of the case. Answers should include concepts from the reading, along with any insights the student has gained from professional experience.

case is attached 

Business Research Methods, 13e/Schindler



The pizza segment of the fast-food industry is very aggressive. As people’s tastes change
and new diets become the rage, restaurant chains must decide if and how to respond. This
case focuses on the research behind the introduction of Donato’s low-carbohydrate pizza,
and how the company collapsed its normal product-development research process to take
advantage of a current trend.


>The Scenario
Some strategic windows remain open for an extended period of time; other, don’t. One of those
slim windows faced Tom Krouse, chief concept officer with Donato’s, an independent premium
pizza restaurant chain, headquartered in Columbus (Ohio). Krouse, who is reponsible for new
product development, had to answer a question facing many restaurants: Is the low-carb diet
a flash fad or a trend—and should we respond?

“Restaurants are influenced my many factors: product, message, weather, reputation,
and competition, to name a few. But mostly we are influenced by changing eating habits. As a
result, we monitor a variety of sources. One of these is syndicated research obtained from The
Yankelovich Monitor and NPD Eating Trends. Another is e-mail comments from customers
received via our web site. We also hold monthly WASSUP Meetings,” shared Krouse, “where
each employee brings knowledge of an element from popular culture and explains its affect on
Donatos.”1 Donatos, recently divested by fast -ood giant McDonald’s, had, for four years,
access to tremendous amounts of research on the eating habits of Americans. In late July,
according to the 2003 HealthFocus Trend Report, 26% of eaters were “carb aware.” “This
meant that they were incorporating low-carb habits into their diets. We had a multitude of
evidence, over several months, that the interest in low-carb eating plans was increasing,”
concluded Krouse.

The time was July 2003. Krouse, who himself was following the Atkins diet,2 was
noticing that at company meetings, where pizza is a staple refreshment, “little piles of crust”
were being left behind. “At first, we worried that something might be wrong with the crust,”
shared Krouse. While to some degree food quality is important to any restaurant, Donatos
stakes its reputation and its position in the pizza segment on two factors: premium quality and
an abundance of toppings—Edge to Edge® as its slogan goes. Donatos discovered that
nothing was wrong with the crust; its employees were avoiding the carbohydrates inherent in
the grain-based foundation of every pizza on the market at that time.

Convinced the low-carb craze permeating the media was no fad, Donatos started its
research-based product development process. The process typically starts with developing
the product prototype, followed by employee taste testing, concept screens (where participants,
usually in a central

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