A Inside Look at the Trends and Changes in 2016
Another year has come and gone, leaving behind new trends that have the potential to reshape how the pizza world conducts business. It is safe to say that America loves its pizza. As one of the most lucrative food industries, pizza sales in the United States topped $44.43 billion this past year. The top 5 chains (Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Little Caesars, Papa John’s, and Papa Murphy’s) made up 55.72% of that, or $24.75 billion. Independent and small chains made up 44.28% or $19.75 billion. Clearly, consumers are not slowing down their consumption of pizza, whether they are purchasing it from large chains or smaller, independent pizzerias.
Based on a thorough analysis of PMQ’s Annual Pizza Power Report, here are the discoveries and highlights of 2016 and how these changes affected the industry.
Technology in 2016 propelled the pizza industry into new heights, especially when it came to the process of ordering. Pizzerias have been utilizing online ordering systems for years now, and many are combining marketing and fulfillment by linking online ordering to their restaurant’s Facebook page. What’s interesting is some owners are considering the possibility of eliminating ordering via phones. One pizzeria owner quoted in the Pizza Power report claimed his business was “without phone service on a Monday at one of our locations, and we did the same amount of sales as we usually do. In fact, I think online ordering earned us more than our usual sales that day due to a higher than average ticket.”
The report did caution that it’s still necessary to have a phone ordering system in place for those consumers who aren’t accustomed to online ordering or do not have internet access readily available. Bigger chains have almost universally adopted online ordering systems and comparatively, several small chains and independent pizzerias have not made the investment. The report noted though, it is crucial to get ahead of what will soon be an omnipresent way to satisfy customers.
Alongside online ordering, fast casual dining has been on the rise in 2016, and no company has done it quite as well as Blaze Pizza. They topped every other pizza company as far as growth this year within this make-your-own-pizza style of dining. Blaze put their name out there mainly through a successful online marketing presence, especially using social media platforms. Social media was a key component in many pizzerias marketing their businesses, allowing diners to check in at an establishment, share photos, and recommend the restaurant to friends.
Blaze held a video campaign called “Follow the Pepperoni,” back in May of 2016. It was a game where the participant would have to guess which cup had a pepperoni pizza slice under it following a quick shuffle of three cups. If the individual won, they would be able to redeem a code for discounted and free food. The challenge earned Blaze more than 46,000 views on Facebook alone, as well as multiple posts on its Instagram account and a Snapchat story. Blaze is successfully commandeering a powerful presence on social media, a marketing tool that 2016 solidified as a necessity for growth.
Quality and specialty pizzas were more popular than ever in 2016. Customers sought out organic, fresh ingredients as well as gluten-free options. Vinnie’s Pizzeria, with two locations in Brooklyn, New York, is a special, small pizzeria that had a fantastic 2016. They claim that 25 percent of the pizza they sell is vegan. Tucked in a trendy, hipster area known as Williamsburg, Vinnie’s is capitalizing on its surroundings by drawing in the neighborhood vegans to the casual joint.
They are famed for producing a pizza on top of a pizza, a creation which was even featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. They also created a pizza box made entirely out of pizza, with a separate pizza inside of the pizza box. The co-owner of Vinnie’s, Sean Berthiaume, stated that many tourists order the fun pizza box option: “We tell customers that it takes 30-60 minutes to make the pizza box, because it consists of three different pizzas made from scratch. If they get the regular cheese with a pepperoni pizza inside, it costs $40. If they decide to customize it, it’s $2-$3 per topping added on to the price.”
Vinnie’s Pizzeria combined excellent pizza with custom creations that became viral media sensations. They have crafted a successful marketing tactic that attracts both tourists and locals, which is quite impressive. They pride themselves on having a truly great product to begin with and everything that follows is just an extra bonus.
For many pizzerias, 2016 was a time of evolving ordering systems, social media presence, creative menu additions, and even ingredient improvement. Continuing onward with this momentum, 2017 is on track to step up the pizza game even more.