In the Za Zone

Published in CSP Daily News

Cravings, convenience, value drive consumers to buy pizza, says Technomic

CHICAGO -- Consumers choose pizza over other meal options due to taste, ease and value. In a new study from foodservice industry consultant Technomic, 62% of those polled say their most recent away-from-home pizza purchase was driven by a craving, followed most closely by 25% reporting it was more convenient than cooking. About one fifth said price, coupons and promotions influenced the decision.

The findings are part of Technomic's new Pizza Consumer Trend Report, designed to help operators and manufacturers better understand the changing pizza landscape and capitalize [image-nocss] on opportunities for growth

Findings include:
The vast majority of consumers (93%) eat pizza at least once a month, and the average consumer eats pizza nearly three times per month. Consumers indicate they have been trading down when it comes to pizza by cutting back on restaurant purchases. More consumers today are buying frozen pizza than were buying it in 2008 (81% compared to 74%). The quality perception of frozen pizza has improved. Today, 30% of consumers think that frozen pizza is of equal or better quality than restaurant pizza, as compared to 15% two years ago. Close to one-fifth of consumers (17%) say that new items influence where they buy pizza, highest among those aged 18-24 years (22%). Two out of five consumers (41%) say they would like pizza establishments to offer healthier ingredients, examples being whole wheat crusts (42%), organic toppings and crusts (30% and 28%, respectively), and all-natural and locally-sourced ingredients (50% and 38%). Limited-service pizza chains are differentiating themselves from local independents by featuring specialty and signature pizzas.

"Operators and suppliers will want to consider what they can do to elicit consumer cravings through adding new items to their menus and emphasizing them through their marketing message," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Chicago-based Technomic. "Differentiation through pizzas that feature unique flavors and taste combinations that consumers cannot purchase elsewhere or make at home will likely help support this effort. Positioning pizza as a meal solution that is easy, convenient and affordable will resonate with many consumers."

Some trends, venues and retail brands examined in the report include:
Streamlined digital ordering: Papa John's desktop widgets, Pizza Hut's iHut smart phone application. Innovative specialty toppings in emerging chains: ZPizza, Pizza Fusion, Extreme Pizza. Expanded offerings in limited-service pizza chains: Pizza Hut's Tuscani pasta, Domino's oven-baked sandwiches. All-natural ingredients in retail and restaurants: Amy's Kitchen, Newman's Own, Pizza Fusion Higher quality frozen pizza: California Pizza Kitchen, DiGiorno's. The Pizza Consumer Trend Report contains menu, consumer and retail insights that will help industry professionals understand current and emerging menu trends and consumer consumption behavior, purchasing decisions, attitudes and preferences toward pizza.

The Consumer Insights section is based on results of an online survey of more than 1,500 U.S. consumers conducted in February 2010. It provides analysis by gender, age, user group (heavy, moderate and light) and by consumer attitude cluster (healthy, balanced, and indulgent pizza eaters) where relevant. Menu Insights uses Technomic's exclusive MenuMonitor database to look at how leading, emerging and independent chain operators are menuing and positioning pizza. The Retail Insights section examines sales, growth and the leading players in the retail segment.