Pizza has been in high demand throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But, as indoor dining resumes and competition between food pick-up and delivery services heats up, how will major pizza chains maintain sales momentum?
Major chains like Domino’s, Papa John’s, and Pizza Hut are making menu tweaks of late, which Yahoo Finance recently suggested may be igniting a “pizza war.”
Here’s a closer look at how major pizza chains plan to thrive post-pandemic.
The Pandemic Pie
In 2020, pizza restaurants in the U.S. generated approximately $46.24 billion in sales, according to a recent Statista report. The top performing chain was Domino’s, followed by Pizza Hut, Little Caesars and Papa John’s.
At the outset of the pandemic, pizza sales spiked and top chains recruited thousands of new employees. In the months that followed, demand remained high. But what sales strategies are big pizza chains banking on as consumer dining options diversify in the foreseeable future, as more and more consumers get vaccinated against COVID-19?.
Catering to Trends, Customer Demand
One sales-boosting strategy is the development and promotion of new menu items that play off of popular trends.
In November 2020, for example, Pizza Hut launched a line of plant-based, alternative-protein pizzas as part of a broader, sustainability-driven collaboration with Beyond Meat. The company also released a Detroit-Style pizza in January, following a year of development and testing iterations in the Midwest.
In February, Little Caesars reintroduced its Pretzel Crust Pizza in the U.S. The pie was introduced six years ago and reinstated due to outspoken customers — some of whom inspired a Change.org petition — calling for the pizza’s return.
Papa John’s added stuffed-crust pizza to its menu in December 2020. Buying patterns revealed that customers who purchase stuffed-crust tend to order more frequently and have higher average ticket sales, reported Yahoo Finance (Mar. 10). The company plans to continue investing in stuffed-crust advertisements to raise awareness in the year ahead.
Pizza chains are increasing their use of internal data to develop new products and direct overall growth strategies.
Domino’s in particular has capitalized on this approach, mining its database of 85 million users for consumer insights, reported PMQ (Jan. 2020). This led the company to focus on carryout service, which represented 45% of its U.S. sales in 2019. The same year, 65% of Domino’s transactions were digital.
Expanding data insights and increasing digital activity helped Domino’s pivot quickly in response to the pandemic. In the months ahead, pizza restaurants could expand their focus on internal data analysis to meet the evolving needs — and predict future demands — of specific customer groups.