Universally beloved for breakfast, lunch and dinner, pizza’s the ultimate foodservice offer. And, as a takeout-friendly comfort food that can be customized and easily updated with new toppings and limited-time offers, it’s fared well during the pandemic.
According to a September 2020 Mintel study, “Pizza Restaurants: Incl Impact of COVID-19 US,” 72% of Americans say, “I enjoy things that remind me of my past (eg childhood),” and almost half of pizza restaurant consumers (45%) prefer pizza over other restaurant foods during the pandemic.
So, what do you need to know to grow pizza sales?
Proprietary or Co-Branded
The first step is to determine which type of pizza program works best for your stores.
In short, proprietary foodservice programs are high-risk and high-reward. Gross profit margins have the potential to be much higher for retailers who have the resources to launch and properly manage their own foodservice operation. However, branded programs allow c-stores to capitalize on an established brand and its operational experience. And they will enable you to implement a foodservice program quickly with minimal experience.
Ultimately, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Determine which type of pizza program works best for your company based on your size, location, foodservice experience and resources.
Toppings and LTOs
While pepperoni may be the favorite topping for many, customers are more apt to try new trends these days than ever before. New flavors, toppings and limited-time offers (LTOs) are a great way to attract new customers and keep your offer fresh.
Interestingly, according to Grubhub’s “Year in Food” report, which is based on trends gathered from tens of millions of orders on the Grubhub platform, Buffalo Chicken pizza was ordered 226% more in 2020 compared to 2019, and Hawaiian pizza rose 689% in popularity.
And according to Datassential, sweet-and-spicy flavors are trending, including hot honey, as well as mango habanero, the Mexican spice Tajín and Nashville hot — which Datassential Trendologist Mike Kostyo said was the fastest-growing sauce, flavor or spice overall in the past four years, growing a massive 727% on menus.
Once your menu’s set, don’t forget to let customers know about your offers via in-store signage, social media — whichever forms of marketing resonate best with your customers. Bonus points for professional photography; don’t sell your offer short with bad lighting.
According to Edison Trends, in 2020, overall online consumer spend at convenience stores grew 346%. And an IRI survey collected January, February and March 2021 shows that the majority of online shoppers will continue their purchase habits post-pandemic.
Apart from its overall popularity, pizza’s one of the most takeout- and delivery-friendly foods for a few reasons: It travels well, it’s relatively difficult to make a home, and it’s affordable.
Adding technology like online or in-app ordering, curbside pickup or delivery will help boost pizza sales and (especially the case with third-party apps) gain new customers who might not have otherwise visited your stores.