“Pizza restaurants came into the COVID-19 crisis ready to handle delivery and carry-out orders, and the uptake in demand provided a crucial opportunity to reach infrequent or lapsed consumers as well as build loyalty among its most avid base. This is an important time for innovation to sustain the uptick in consumption while keeping consumers engaged as the country emerges from the pandemic. Flavor will always be integral to menu introductions, but adding value through format (ie, on-the-go, sizing) or function (ie, ingredient, nutrition claims) will help players attract attention and drive frequency.”

– Mimi Bonnett, Senior Director – US Research

This report will look at the following areas:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the pizza restaurant industry.
  • The recessionary impact on pizza restaurant sales.
  • How to to broaden the scope of pizza restaurants’ value position through a focus on convenience – including opportunities to increase snackability and portability associations.
  • How pizza restaurants can appeal to consumers’ desire for menu innovation.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: LSR Visitation, April 2021
    • Impact of COVID-19 on pizza restaurants
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on pizza restaurants, June 2021
    • Challenges and Opportunities
    • Pizza restaurant use remains elevated but slowing
      • Figure 3: Pizza restaurant visitation, 2019-21
    • Investments in tech alone won’t win occasions
      • Figure 4: Important attributes, April 2021
    • Shake up habitual ordering
      • Figure 5: Attitudes toward pizza restaurants – Habitual tendencies, by select demographics, April 2021
    • Managing the tricky balance between health and indulgence requires depth
      • Figure 6: Attitudes toward pizza restaurants – Health, by select demographics, April 2021
    • Make occasions matter
      • Figure 7: LSR Occasions, April 2021
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Pizza ops fall just short of burgers
    • Pizza restaurants FTW in 2020
    • Still room to increase frequency
    • The competitive landscape is increasingly blurry
  4. Pizza Market Audience and Overview

    • Off-prem-ready pizza operators among top “dining destinations”
      • Figure 8: Fast food restaurant usage, April 2021
    • More than eight in 10 order at least monthly
      • Figure 8: Fast food restaurant usage, any LSR, April 2021
    • Frequent pizza diners include…
      • Figure 9: Weekly or more LSR pizza frequency, by select demographics, April 2021
    • More than half use multiple operators
      • Figure 10: Pizza restaurant visitation – Repertoire Analysis, April 2021
    • Impact of COVID-19 on pizza restaurants
  5. Market Factors

    • Wavering unemployment and confidence cut into foodservice occasions
      • Figure 11: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-April 2021
    • Shifts in food and drink spending impact even pizza restaurants
      • Figure 12: Prepared food purchasing frequency year over year, September 2020
      • Figure 13: Pizza restaurant visitation – Grocery Store, 2019-21
    • Pizza on the menu…everywhere
      • Figure 14: Pizza restaurant visitation – Non Pizza Specialists, 2019-21
    • Elevated ingredient costs cut into operator margins
      • Figure 15: Changes in consumer food price indexes, March 2020-21
    • Shrinking household size may have longer term impact
      • Figure 16: Percent of households with children, 2009-19
  6. Competitive Landscape – Key Takeaways

    • Plant-based ingredients find their way onto pizza
    • Personal occasions are a way to expand usage among women
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • Menu blurring
    • Leaning into contemporary health trends through menus, ingredients
    • Going dark (kitchen), getting robotic
  8. Market Opportunities

    • Emphasize the value of pizza beyond price
      • Figure 19: Attitudes toward pizza restaurants – Pandemic impact, April 2021
    • Bite-sized menu innovation can build under-developed occasions
    • Nudge women into more personal occasions
      • Figure 20: Pizza purchase occasions, by gender, April 2021
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Pizza visitation comes off pandemic peak
    • Value, convenience and accessibility drive frequency
    • Crowd-pleasing and shareable attributes drive purchase occasions
    • Pizza consumers look for quality, type of pizza, and convenience
    • Customization expected
    • Classics top consumer cravings, but hungry for more
    • Consumers stick to the same, but innovation drives interest
  10. Pizza Restaurant Visitation

    • Pizza restaurant use remains elevated but slowing
      • Figure 21: Pizza restaurant visitation, 2019-21
    • Men seek out pizza from a wide number of pizza sources
      • Figure 22: Pizza restaurant visitation, by gender, April 2021
    • 18-34 year olds show signs of impulsive purchase
      • Figure 23: Pizza restaurant visitation, by age, April 2021
    • Pizza is a kid pleaser for parents
      • Figure 24: Pizza restaurant visitation, by parental status, April 2021
  11. Consumption Frequency

    • Majority of LSR pizza consumed monthly+
      • Figure 25: LSR pizza consumption frequency, April 2021
    • Buffet pizza chains have the strongest consumption frequency
      • Figure 26: Pizza consumption frequency, April 2021
    • Weekly+ LSR pizza diners are under 45, male and parents
      • Figure 27: LSR pizza consumption frequency, by select demographics, April 2021
  12. Purchase Occasions

    • Disrupt, don’t break, the social habit
      • Figure 28: Pizza purchase occasions, April 2021
    • Nudge women into more personal occasions
      • Figure 29: Pizza purchase occasions, by gender, April 2021
    • Parents open to many occasion for pizza
      • Figure 30: Potential occasions for pizza purchase, by parental status, April 2021
  13. Important Attributes

    • Product quality is non-negotiable
      • Figure 31: Important attributes, April 2021
    • Future pizza consumers will demand services that deliver on speed, convenience and efficiency
      • Figure 32: Important attributes, by age, April 2021
      • Figure 33: Important attributes, by parental status, April 2021
  14. Pizza Preferences

    • Customization expected, can go further
      • Figure 34: Pizza preferences, April 2021
    • COVID spurred new trial in 18-44s
      • Figure 35: Pizza preferences, by age, April 2021
    • Families are solid targets for new products, LTOs, bundling
      • Figure 36: Pizza preferences, by parental status, April 2021
  15. Appealing Pizza Crusts

    • Thin-style crusts appeal to vast majority
      • Figure 37: Appealing crusts, April 2021
    • When it comes to pizza crust, consumers stick to the classics
      • Figure 38: TURF Analysis – appealing crusts, April 2021
      • Figure 39: TURF Analysis – appealing crusts, April 2021
    • Young adults enticed by unique crusts
      • Figure 40: Appealing crusts, by age, April 2021
  16. Appealing Pizza Sauces

    • Classic tomato sauce dominates
      • Figure 41: Appealing Pizza sauces, April 2021
    • Sauce preferences are getting spicy
      • Figure 42: TURF Analysis – Appealing Pizza sauces, April 2021
      • Figure 43: TURF Analysis – Appealing Pizza sauces, April 2021
    • Young adults are ideal target for flavor innovation in sauces
      • Figure 44: Appealing Pizza sauces, by age, April 2021
  17. Appealing Pizza Cheeses

    • Cheddar and Romano are the big cheese
      • Figure 45: Appealing pizza cheeses, April 2021
    • One in five adults 45+ are cheese topping purists
      • Figure 46: Appealing pizza cheeses, by age, April 2021
  18. Pizza Toppings

    • Mushrooms appeal to more than half
      • Figure 47: Appealing pizza toppings, April 2021
    • Men seeking sweet heat; women looking to load up on produce
      • Figure 48: Pizza toppings, by gender, April 2021
    • Younger adults looking to elevate pizza experience through toppings
      • Figure 49: Pizza toppings, by age, April 2021
  19. Appealing Pizza Proteins

    • Is pork losing its power?
      • Figure 50: Pizza proteins, April 2021
    • Men still want the meats
      • Figure 51: Pizza proteins, by gender, April 2021
    • Fried chicken pizza is the next “meaty” indulgence for young adults
      • Figure 52: Pizza proteins, by age, April 2021
  20. Attitudes toward Pizza Restaurants

    • Lean into “limited” value
      • Figure 53: Attitudes toward pizza restaurants – Pandemic impact, April 2021
    • Innovate to shake up habits
      • Figure 54: Attitudes toward pizza restaurants, April 2021
    • Nearly half of pizza fans aren’t concerned about healthy pizza
      • Figure 55: Attitudes toward pizza restaurants – Health, by select demographics, April 2021
  21. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • TURF Methodology
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

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