Pizza hut has recently announced that they are going to release a redesigned hand-tossed pizza this week. The new version will have a more organic shape and more imperfections than the previous version. I love that Pizza Hut is doing this.

The article that was published on Wednesday at begins:

“If you notice some air bubbles and stray cheese on your Pizza Hut pie crust, it’s not an accident. It’s all part of an effort to appear more “authentic.”

This is all about a subconscious experience. Over half of any customer experience happens subconsciously. This is true in any transaction, whether you buy shoes online or went to the hardware store to get paint. Every interaction with your customer happens on two different levels, consciously and subconsciously.

Most organizations only consider the conscious parts of the experience. That’s because these are the easiest to quantify measure and control. So if you take the example of the Pizza business model, they consider the order taking process, the time of delivery, the heat of the product when it arrives, and other things along these lines. These are the conscious parts of the experience and ones that customers often say is most important to them.

But what customers say and what customer’s do is an entirely different thing most of the time. That’s because humans are irrational. I don’t mean that they are crazy or that are confrontational. Human beings will knock on wood for luck.  Not me. I throw spilled salt over my shoulder though. They will also hit the elevator button a bunch of times when they are in a hurry, even when they know it isn’t going to come any faster as a result. When I say that they are irrational, I mean that human beings make decisions on where to get a pizza based on many different criteria, not just the ones that are rational and are easy to quantify and control.

As the article points out, there is a movement away from assembly line food, uniform in shape and size. Why? Because of what that says to you about the food? If every pizza looks identical, then you naturally assume that it was made in an assembly line, or made from less than natural ingredients (chicken mcnuggets, anyone?).  And for many consumers who are taking a closer look at the type of food they eat, nothing says call another pizza place like assembly line, not natural ingredients pizza.

Sometimes things can just be too perfect. Take where I live in Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota the main street is just too perfect. It lacks character. It lacks that ‘well worn’ feel. See the live webcam here.

It’s like going to a Disney park or the set of the Truman show. Remember that one? In case you didn’t, here’s the trailer:



Pizza Hut’s revamped pizza to be “more authentic” concept is not a new one. A number of years ago we bought ‘Antique Effect’ furniture. This was new furniture that was made to look old! It even had little nicks in the wood. This, according to my wife, was very chic. So chic and popular was this effect that if you had the misfortune of buying new, non-distressed furniture, you could make the same subtle nicks in the wood on your own. You can see how in this step by step guide from the

But why would you do this? Simple, when you see the furniture is distressed it says that it is well used and loved. It says that people lived their lives with this piece of furniture. The nicks tell you that even though it isn’t brand new, it is from a time when furniture was made better, not the pressed board glued together with a veneer slapped on it that you buy today. Subconsciously, it tells you that the piece is of higher quality and value. We cover the who area of the subconscious experience on our Customer Experience Management Certification training course.

Unless, of course, nicked up furniture is out of fashion. Then they would tell another story all together. But that’s a whole other post on branding and when the customer experience begins…

These are examples of the subconscious experience. Disney uses it all the time in how they create the ‘lands’ that people go into in the park.  One of my favorite subconscious things they do is to put all the major things you need to find on the right side of the street because the majority of people who attend Disneyland are right handed and are more likely to look in that direction. Another trick Disney does is to use perspective in the road, and by that I mean that they built the road to narrow as you get closer to the castle to give the illusion that the park is bigger than it is. Disney knows that over 95% of our brains processing power is used by our subconscious.

So this move for Pizza Hut is about paying extreme attention to detail, like Disney does as well as some other major brands out there. They are building a deliberate experience based on our natural preference for our food being hand made. The move is a good one. By addressing the conscious as well as the subconscious part of the experience they are making the right moves to improve their customer experience.

Who else does a good job of considering the subconscious parts of the experience?

Photo credit:

Pizza Hut : The Perfection of Imperfection, Colin Shaw

Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin has been recognized by LinkedIn as one of the top 150 Business Influencers in the world.  He is an international author of four best-selling books on Customer Experience. Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from our Global Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, USA.

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