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Consumer Trends

Pizza profits during tough times

While not exactly rolling in dough, the pizza category is experiencing modest growth, according to a 2011 report from Mintel. Pizza is affordable, convenient and a canvas for variety—three favorable factors in today's challenging economy.

  • In 2012, Mintel projects a healthy gain of 2.9% in pizza sales, followed by 2% growth in 2013. Last year, sales rose by 2.2%, compared to 0.5% in 2010
  • Thin crust wins. According to Mintel, 38% of pizza restaurant patrons prefer thin crust over pan-style and thick crust pizzas
  • Pepperoni also wins. Favored by 67% of customers, pepperoni takes home the pie, with mushrooms coming in second at 53%. Sausage is in third place with 52% and onions fourth with 41%

Pizza brands and concepts are doing their part to boost sales with the following tactics:

  • Keeping prices fairly flat. In order to stay competitive, operators have maintained a steady price. In the past three years, the price of a basic pizza has risen just over 1%.  Operators have made up for this by introducing menu innovations and raising the prices of other items, such as specialty pizzas, salads and desserts
  • Technological advances. Innovative technologies like streamlined ordering through iPhone and iPad apps have spurred sales
  • Identifying pizza as comfort food. Pizza operators are finding that sales increase when pizza is portrayed as a familiar, reliable, low-cost item that can feed an entire family—rather than an upscale or artisan food
  • Smart marketing. Promotions and tie-ins are key contributors to pizza sales. For example, Papa John’s and Domino’s became the official pizzas of the NFL and NCAA, respectively. Social media is also becoming an increasingly important channel for pizza operators

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