The pizza industry is always on the rise (because as we know, za never goes out of style), but over the last few years this rising pie has undergone an increasing number of ebbs and flows due to different needs and trends. The pie of competition has significantly risen in the market. More and more, shops are pushed to break boundaries, stand out, and keep up with an ever-changing industry. Especially if you’re a pizza shop owner, you definitely know the effect Covid-19 had on the industry, and how now (more than ever) you have to put your best foot forward to keep your shop’s dough rising (literally and figuratively) …but we’ll get to that later.

Lots of New Za

Each year, more and more pizza shops pop up throughout the US. In just the last six years alone, the number of pizza restaurants in the U.S. increased by approximately six thousand units. That’s a whole lot of new za – and a ton of new competition. In order to keep things fresh and keep the customers coming, shops need to stay up to date with new customer awareness, ideas, and trends. In recent years, the pizza industry has changed, evolved, and often flourished – most likely causing your shop to make more than a few changes. Let’s take a look back.

The 2019 Industry: Creating & Altering

Prior to 2019, pizza was mostly about readiness, speed of delivery, and shareability. As long as it came with great taste, no one complained. But 2019 brought on some new challenges for the pizza industry. With an increase in information and more ease of research, the younger demographic called for healthier alternatives – like lower carb and calorie crusts and plant-based toppings.

This switch to healthy attributes in pizza, for those shops who kept up, helped reach $154.8 billion in global sales in 2019, with the United States market reaching $46.3 billion. This ability to adapt to what consumers want (and need), and being open to new alternatives, is what keeps the pizza market going and growing year after year. “As diets continue(d) to change and demand for fresh and transparently sourced ingredients increase(d), pizza companies (had) to adapt their menus to accommodate consumers while maintaining profit margins.”

Also on the rise in 2019 was authenticity. It became important to offer greater transparency in your people, services, and pizza, and let your consumers know exactly what ingredients they were consuming. 49% of all shoppers wanted more authenticity in pizza offerings. As a result, it became even more important for shops to not just make great pizza – but make it with better, possibly more costly ingredients that were likely healthier and more authentic. This increase in transparency also caused some major shifts in pizza possibilities…or should we say pizzabilities (did we just coin a new term!?). Many shops started to incorporate ethnic flavors into the mix, going way beyond traditional varieties. Shops tried new crusts, new meats, and many new tastes to entice an ever-changing customer base.

The 2020 Industry: Delivering & Communicating

We all know that 2020 came with so many worldly changes (ahem, Covid-19). If you’re a pizza shop owner, you definitely encountered some hurtles – from sanitation, to dough, to staff and delivery services. Simply put – everything changed.

Thankfully, pizza shops adapted quickly in 2020, and the numbers show it. Although it was a tough year for many, and countless restaurants ran out of funds and were forced to close, there were still many shops who actually thrived. Covid-19 doubled independent pizza operators’ sales from $2,000 to $4,000 weekly, and many major pizza chains also saw a significant sales increase. Dominos, for instance, saw same-store sales go up 16% during quarter two!

How’d they do it? They adjusted. Because of the need to close in-house dining, shops focused on their delivery services and digital communication. They improved online ordering, enhanced online pick-up and delivery, and increased newsletter, email, digital advertising, and website communication to continue to reach customers. Because of this, delivery went up 173%.

Most importantly maybe, people just really wanted pizza. It travels much better than other restaurant foods, and has been and remained the ultimate at-home comfort food, catering to the quarantine lifestyle and overall unrest of 2020. Basically, a little dough, cheese, and sauce was at least a temporary cure for all the stress of 2020.

The 2021 Industry: Adapting & Growing

While the pandemic stunted many restaurants (whether they shut their doors or temporarily closed), 2021’s looking up, as long as shops continue to be resilient and apt to change.

Here are a few top trends to help you keep up, survive, and even thrive in 2021:

  • Continue contactless delivery: Make sure your customers remain comfortable and safe when ordering from your shop.
  • Implement touch-free-at-table ordering: Use QR codes to eliminate the need for sanitizing and spending on menus.
  • Continue to showcase new offers, rewards, and discounts: Remind your customers that they’re valued, and that you know times continue to be tough on their hearts and their wallets.
  • Stay active on social media: Use social to lead customers to online order, to showcase your brand, and use chat bots to continue consumer communication.
  • Invest in heaters for outdoor dining: Even just offering this option increases your value, brand, and ultimately, your sales (customers see that you’re adapting and trying).
  • Simplify your menu: Call attention to high profit items with photos and call-outs. Make it easier than before for customers to see their options. 2020 and 2021 are already overwhelming enough, so don’t overwhelm customers with a menu as long as a CVS receipt.
  • Send out direct mail: With more people at home than ever before, customers can feel a bit bombarded with digital communication. Direct mail can be an exciting break from all the digital noise.

2020 was tough, and 2021 will continue to be difficult at times. But we’re now much more equipped to weather the storm. Let your customers see what you’ve done and continue to do for your shop and its loyal pizza lovers. Be patient, prepared and ready to adapt. The pie of the pizza market can still rise. 83% of Americans still eat pizza at least once a month, so our industry’s in luck.

If you’re struggling to design a marketing strategy that fits the needs of 2021 (and beyond)…no worries. ZaHub provides easy, no-experience-necessary marketing for those who may not have the budget or time after the difficulties of Covid-19. Contact us to get started.