Battle of The Brands – Healthy Competition is Really a Good Thing

One of the great things about working at Return Path is the ability to work with our unique data in new and interesting ways. Last year, we released our subscriber overlap feature in our Inbox Insight product that let brands know how much of their list overlaps with other brands, and who wins when they compete head on for the attention of those shared subscribers (check out our Battle of the Brands infographic).

We’re now taking a deeper look into these highly competitive segments and what this means for marketers.  Recently, we looked at how subscribers that receive emails from two large pizza companies, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut, engage with their email.  First of all, some details on the six month analysis.

  1. 30% of Pizza Hut subscribers also receive email from Papa John’s.*

  2. 22% of Papa John’s subscribers also receive email from Pizza Hut.*

pizza overlap

So, if you think about the pizza eating population (which is just about everyone), there are lots of email subscribers that are looking at offers from both of these pizza brands.  So should Pizza Hut be concerned that close to ⅓ of their list also receives competitive offers from Papa Johns?  Of course. But, it is really more about being aware of this overlap and understanding the opportunities that lie within it.  It’s about understanding the difference between brand loyalists and those subscribers that are just going to respond to the best offer at the right time.   

While you might think that sharing subscribers with your competition is a bad thing, we’ve learned from this analysis (and many others) that those subscribers that you share with your competition are among the most active from an email engagement and purchase perspective. The shared subscriber audience have signed up for offers from competing brands so it’s more likely that they’re actively shopping in a specific space (I promise we’ll share future examples that aren’t just pizza), and they’re not using a throw away (or secondary) email address.   

The higher subscriber overlap is actually an indication that Pizza Hut is doing a great job at acquiring high quality subscribers.  It’s actually Papa John’s that should be concerned that they have a smaller relative population of these high-value subscribers.

The Brand Loyalists

  • Pizza Hut only subscribers have an engagement rate 43% higher than Papa John’s only subscribers. When it comes to brand loyalty, it appears Pizza Hut is doing a much better job of engaging their brand loyal subscribers.

  • During the 6 months that we studied the two brands, Pizza Hut only subscribers had a purchase rate 23% higher than subscribers that are just signed up for Papa John’s emails.  So again, we see that Pizza Hut’s email program has stronger overall performance.  

The Bargain Hunters

  • Given that Pizza Hut has higher brand-loyalty engagement rates, it is not surprising that we see only slightly higher engagement (3%) for Pizza Hut shared subscribers vs. Pizza Hut only subscribers.

  • Subscribers that Papa John’s shares with Pizza Hut engage with Papa John’s email at a rate 33% higher than subscribers that only receive Papa John’s email. This shared subscriber audience is much more engaged with Papa John’s email than those subscribers that ONLY receive Papa John’s email.

  • So what does that mean for purchases?  For Papa John’s subscribers that ordered at least one pizza, the purchase rate is 15% higher for those shared subscribers than for subscribers that only receive Papa John’s emails.

Stay tuned for our next blog in the series to learn more about the specific difference in program tactics that translate into more pizzas being ordered from Pizza Hut and what Papa John’s could be doing about it.

If you’re interested in learning more about how your brand loyalists compare to the bargain hunters on your list, we’re actively recruiting beta participants to work with us on the next version of Inbox Insight.  Please contact us and we can set up a conversation with our product team.  Just mention “Inbox Insight beta program” in the comments.



*As represented in Return Path’s Consumer Data Stream.


minute read

Popular stories



BriteVerify email verification ensures that an email address actually exists in real-time


The #1 global data quality tool used by thousands of Salesforce admins


Insights and deliverability guidance from the only all-in-one email marketing solution

GridBuddy Cloud

Transform how you interact with your data through the versatility of grids.

Return Path

World-class deliverability applications to optimize email marketing programs

Trust Assessments

A revolutionary new solution for assessing Salesforce data quality


Validity for Email

Increase inbox placement and maximize subscriber reach with clean and actionable data

Validity for Data Management

Simplify data management with solutions that improve data quality and increase CRM adoption

Validity for Sales Productivity

Give your sales team back hours per day with tools designed to increase productivity and mitigate pipeline risks in real-time