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Artisan Everywhere

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There has been lots of chatter about Dominos’ new line of “Artisan Pizzas.” Some of the banter is about the taste of the pizza. Some consumers like the new offering of three thin crust pizzas, available with spinach and feta, Italian sausage and peppers or Tuscan salami and roasted vegetables. Others are less impressed.

Most of the talk, however, has been about the use of the word “artisan” -- with several industry watchers wondering if this latest iteration suggests that the word is quickly becoming as stale as “organic” and “local.” Shops sell artisan breads, chocolates, cheeses and desserts, and mainstream food companies have been swift to adopt the term. What’s the appeal? Some say that in a world of mass-produced products, “artisan” suggests something unique and handcrafted.

In Domino’s case, industry pundits admit that they would have been hard-pressed to link the pizza chain and “artisan” a few years back, but some feel that the success of the company’s 2009 Pizza Turnaround campaign has changed that. The promotion, which documented the reinvention of Domino’s core product, established a culture of transparency and lifted the quality of the product in the eyes of the consumers. As a result, consumers may be more willing to give their artisan offerings a try.

In keeping with the “transparency” principle, each pizza box is signed by the store manager in charge -- much like an artisan putting his mark on his work. It’s an interesting point of differentiation in a sea of pizza sameness -- not to mention an affordable indulgence for those who don’t have a pizza joint on every corner.