The Anytime Meal: Pizza

By Mark Brandau

Is there any food that’s more well-known or more beloved than good ole pizza?

Not really. According to Datassential FLAVOR, virtually 100% of consumers know of pizza and nearly as many (91%, to be exact) say they love it or like it, making it America’s #1 favorite food.

In 2014 we published our first Pizza Keynote Report, and though the percentage of restaurants offering pizza has remained relatively consistent since then, the category is continuing to see tons of innovation, making it a topic worth revisiting today. For example, the dish is breaking out of the traditional dinner daypart and making its way onto breakfast menus—just this month, New York City’s East Village got a combined pizzeria and coffee shop named Baker’s Pizza & Espresso that’s dedicated solely to serving breakfast pizzas by the slice. Offerings at the fledgling eatery include the Benedict pizza, featuring hollandaise, over-easy eggs (fried eggs are one of the fastest-growing proteins on pizza, increasing 164% in the past 4 years, according to Datassential MenuTrends), and Canadian bacon (found at around 20% of all pizzerias).

Aside from expanding to new dayparts, pizzas are also beginning to take on a range of new flavors, with sauces like sriracha showing up on globally-inspired creations like Chicago-based Aroma Pizzeria’s pizza, Thai One on Pie, which combines grilled chicken, basil, peanuts, and mozzarella. Toppings are being reimagined, too. Operators are going beyond traditional sausage and pepperoni and experimenting with more forward-thinking, premium options like kale or pork belly.

To get at the heart of consumers’ preferences when it comes to ordering and customizing their own pizzas (customization is an increasingly common expectation among consumers as they seek out a more personalized dining experience), for this report Datassential created a pizza ordering simulator in which consumers built their own pizzas, choosing their preferred option for everything from crust type to sauces to toppings. The results of the simulator, which are detailed in the full report, reveal slight differences between men and women when it comes to topping choices (men are more likely to choose indulgent proteins like pork belly, for instance) and demonstrates that consumers are, in fact, willing to pay more for premium options.

 

2018 pizza trends

 

Which promotions work for getting customers in the door, and which don’t?

Offering trendy toppings may be one way to attract customers, but operators shouldn’t discount the effectiveness of LTOs either. We heard from operators that, “Being in a smaller market, direct mailed coupons have always been the most effective [promotion]. Usually dollars off of a particular pizza or a meal that includes breadsticks, desserts sticks, and a 2-liter of pop.”

Loyalty programs or combo offers can also be leveraged to encourage more frequent pizza purchases.

What motivates consumers in choosing a pizza restaurant?

Consumer loyalty to pizza restaurants is strong. According to our Pizza Keynote Report, half of consumers order from the same pizza restaurant, regardless of deals at other pizzerias.

We asked consumers what motivates them to choose one pizza restaurant over another. Responses were distributed as follows:

  • Has to best-tasting pizza - 67%
  • Offers the best value - 55%
  • Convenient location - 49%
  • Offers coupons - 29%
  • Fast service - 28%

 

Delivery is hot.

Consumers today are busier than ever, so it’s no surprise that a significant number of customers are getting their pizza via delivery services. Phone orders are the most common method for ordering pizza (both delivery and takeout), but digital ordering is preferred by just over half of consumers.

The rise of third-party delivery services like GrubHub, UberEats, and DoorDash as well as proprietary apps from pizza companies themselves have made it easier than ever for consumers to order pizza for delivery with just the touch of a few buttons.

As more operators look to get into the delivery space, they’re also seeking ways to innovate and stand out from the competition. California-based Zume Pizza, for example, is pioneering the use of ovens on-board its delivery trucks, a type of next-gen pizza technology that 73% of consumers say they’re interested in, according to our Pizza Keynote Report.

 

2018 pizza trends

 

What pizza opportunities lie in retail?

Convenience and affordability are top drivers for purchasing frozen or take-and-bake pizzas, while factors like healthiness or variety of toppings are weighed less heavily. Focusing on improving and highlighting top attributes like convenience may help increase at-home pizza occasions.

 

2018 pizza trends

 

Pizza is fired up!

Two-thirds of consumers have eaten pizza in the past week, and 20% of millennials enjoyed a slice in the past day. Pizza varieties are growing on menus, expanding on favorites like pepperoni and mushroom to include upscale ingredients such as pulled pork and ricotta cheese. And operators who menu pizza say business is booming, both among national and regional chains and local independents.

Find out why and get your piece of the pie with actionable insights into the world of crusts, sauces, cheeses, proteins, and toppings when you use our suite of trend-evaluating tools.