• PizzaMarketplace.com Top 100 Movers & Shakers, No. 1: Domino's

Editor's note: The following information is part of a countdown recap from the inaugural Top 100 Movers and Shakers publication. It was published in the spring of 2012. Some of the information may now be different.

In the past two years, Domino’s Pizza has pulled off quite the comeback. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based chain kicked off this turnaround after admitting it had a subpar product – a “crust that tasted like cardboard” – and launching an aggressive marketing and social media plan to complement its new recipe. These initiatives were huge risks that have paid off in droves.

Before the “Oh Yes We Did”-themed changes came about, two years ago, Domino’s shares were worth about $7. They now average between $35 and $40. Following its wildly successful marketing and recipe shift, Domino’s same-store sales were up 3.5 percent for a two-year comp of 13.4 percent. The chain made $3.4 billion in 2011, closing the year with 4,513 franchised stores in the U.S. and 394 company-owned stores. Internationally, the brand boasts 4,835 franchised stores.

Domino’s has also cornered the delivery niche. More than 22 percent of all pizza deliveries in the U.S. come from Domino’s, while 28 percent come from Pizza Hut and Papa John’s combined, according to The NPD Group.

The company certainly hasn’t rested on its laurels, recently launching a new Artisan Pizza line, stuffed cheesy bread, parmesan bread bites and new chicken products.

That was just on the domestic side. Domino’s international performance has put the company among the top five publicly-traded restaurant companies in terms of store count. The international division has experienced 72 consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales growth spanning 18 years. Domino’s estimates the potential for more than 2,800 additional restaurants in its top 10 global markets, led by the United Kingdom, India, France, Mexico and Australia.

But with Domino’s, it’s been about more than bottom lines and happy investors. The company’s technology platforms and marketing initiatives have positioned the chain as a progressive leader in the restaurant industry. In 2011, Domino's social media followers — through Facebook and Twitter specifically — grew 400 percent over 2010.

"(Technology) is truly a way for us to offer one-on-one marketing with our consumers," CEO J. Patrick Doyle said in a recent earnings call. The company also began mining information from its loyal followers, launching Think Oven – an online suggestion box – earlier this year.

On the mobile side, Domino’s launched its iPhone/iPod touch app in the summer of 2011, and it generated more than $1 million in sales within the first three months. Its new Android app achieved more than 140,000 downloads in the first two weeks and was the top downloaded app in the “lifestyle category.”

Doyle pointed to the company's successful digital initiatives, including its Cyber Monday promotion which yielded more than 1 million orders in a week, and its inaugural Domino's Global Day, which resulted in a record day in online sales, as a big driver in its positive year. The company estimates that it did more than $1.8 billion in online sales globally in 2011. This averages $34 million a week just online.

Other cutting-edge initiatives include its Pizza Hero app for iPads, an interactive pizza-making game that links to Domino’s career page, and an augmented reality application in the UK that allows customers to download deals through enabled posters throughout the streets of London.

"We've reached a new level of customer loyalty in the United States and strong brand equity around the world. These results came from international momentum, but also from technology," Doyle said. "We are not the same company we were even two years ago. We really are a different Domino's."

Download the complete PizzaMarketplace Top 100 Movers & Shakers.

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