In the past, traditional pizza marketing has often favored the adolescent and young adult niches. Advertisements in this industry typically focus on indulgence, with stuffed crusts and an over-abundance of cheese taking center stage. However, food industry research indicates that consumers are growing tired of this approach as food industry trends continue to shift away from extravagance. To keep your pizza chain competitive, consider incorporating flatbread into your menu.
Understanding the Problem
Pizza marketing has traditionally taken a “more is better” approach. From flavor-blasted crusts to pizzas topped with five different kinds of meat, it seems that pizza chains are competing to see who can make the biggest, most caloric pie. Unfortunately, this approach has not led to much growth in the pizza industry. According to QSR, the pizza segment has experienced a negative growth rate of 6.8 percent since 2011. The segment has also watched its target audience shrink considerably, losing most of the adult market and zeroing in on teenagers.
The reason for this decline most likely lies in a marked change in consumer interests that has occurred over the past few years. Although consumers may have favored indulgence and extravagance several years ago, today's consumers are more likely to select lighter, healthier menu items. The consumers of 2015 and beyond are also favoring internationally-inspired flavors, artisan toppings, authenticity and minimal processing. All of these trends lead consumers away from pizza chains' current menu offerings.
Flatbread Brings More to the Table
At first glance, it may seem like flatbread isn't much different from pizza. But it does offer several advantages over traditional pizza that may help pizza chains get on board with current food industry trends and boost their profits. Some of these advantages include:
Fewer calories. Flatbreads are naturally lower in calories than traditional pizza crusts, and they can be customized to include healthier ingredients. Since many consumers are now putting more effort into making healthier food choices, offering flatbread would allow pizza chains to target even the most health-conscious consumers.
Versatility. Flatbreads are extremely versatile. They can be used to satisfy the palate of traditionalists, or they can be customized to feature artisan toppings and exotic flavors.
Flexibility. Many consumers view traditional pizza as a shareable entree, which means that you can only eat pizza if you have a few friends along to help you finish it. Flatbread, on the other hand, can act as a shared appetizer, a main course for a single person or even a side dish.
Maturity. While traditional pizza may be viewed as the food of teenagers and frat boys, adding flatbread to the menu brings an air of maturity. With this option available, adults can visit pizza chains without compromising their sophisticated palates.
Uniqueness and novelty. Because flatbreads have not been a fixture of the pizza chain's repertoire in the past, adding them to the menu gives pizza chains the opportunity to launch engaging advertising campaigns that highlight this new offering and capture the attention of consumers.
Proven consumer appeal. Although flatbreads are not widely available at most pizza chains, they have proven their worth on the menus of other restaurant chains. In fact, while pizza decreased in popularity from 2011 to 2014, the popularity of flatbreads grew by 34 percent.
As food industry trends continue to move further away from extravagance and excess, pizza chains need to come up with a new way to market their products effectively. Adding flatbread to the menu may be the best way to rework pizza so that it resonates with today's consumers. With the help of flatbread, pizza chains can continue to meet the needs of their current niche while simultaneously increasing their appeal to consumers of more refined tastes.