Pizza Hut Restaurants, which left the ownership of Yum! Brands near the end of 2012, had stopped seeing things through children’s eyes and had become too corporate, according to its marketing director Kathryn Austin.

Speaking at the CGA Peach Consumer Insight & Marketing Conference 2014, Austin said those looking to do well in the family-dining space must see their “offering through the kids eyes, otherwise you will lose out on a £1.9bn market”.

One out of 10 family visits to a restaurant is to a Pizza Hut and Austin said it was critical that the group got the “family experience right” which meant looking at the brand from top to bottom. She said that the brand had lost its “quirkiness/fun element” and had become too “preachy”.

She said: “We had stopped thinking about the kid in all of us, so we had to go through each element of the brand to see how we could change that. In some cases this meant being reminded of the bleeding obvious.”

Austin said that the company had put the journey it needed to take under seven headings: Arrival (greeting children first), Environment (creating a physical space for kids and adults), Getting started (making sure kids are always occupied), Food (provide more choice and “stop doing breadcrumbs”), Activities (making these simple and not over engineered), Mechanics (emotional cues and right size cutlery), and finally a PS, which was one key insight from mums – don’t put beans on chips, mixing food groups together was seen as a “no no”.

Austin said: “We needed to go from worn out parent to cheeky but responsible uncle in the eyes of our customers, this meant revisiting key icons and making them more vibrant. Always remember to go back to basics and remain core to your brand. It is key to understand yourself and your brand, therefore talk to your markets.”

She also said that the group was exploring ways to up its craft beer offer with trials at a number of sites. “We have always had an alcohol offer but didn’t promote it. Pubs obviously promote their offers, which means we should be exploring this as well.”