Pizza and Gen Z
Online ordering and delivery and technologies around enhancing convenience seem to attract Gen Z more than any other tactic. Successful examples of fast-casual and quick-service restaurants marketing pizza to Gen Z have had to rethink the idea of convenience to present more attractive packages such as pickup windows. Nevertheless, other chains such as Domino's have capitalized on language via emojis to get the attention of Gen Z. Read on for an elaborate methodology defining the approaches used to retrieve information on how pizza brands are marketing themselves to Generation Z in the U.S.
In finding information regarding how pizza brands are marketing themselves to Generation Z, we started by examining marketing reports that focus predominantly on fast-casual and quick-service restaurants, which are preferred by Gen Z (officially defined as those between 1995 and 2015, though for purposes of this research, focus has been placed on the 18-24 age range especially in terms of buying power). Therefore, we explored compilations of reports published across pizza-related magazines, marketing and business reports including QSR Magazine, Pizza Magazine, Gen Z Insights, Millennial Marketing, and other relevant reports with rich data on Gen Z and pizza. These reports featured in-depth analyses of this generation and their food habits along with information on how marketers, especially fast-casual and quick-service restaurants, have managed to attract this generation. Through these reports, we managed to uncover three primary and trending tactics that marketers have used market pizza to Gen Z. Additionally, we have included examples of fast-casual and quick-service restaurants using these tactics, those intending to use them, and the overall impact these tactics have had to the business model and sales.
1. ONLINE ORDERING & DELIVERY
Online ordering and delivery are a must for any Pizza brand marketing to Gen Z. Often, a Gen Zer walks into a restaurant with a phone in their hands, according to the founder of the Center for Generational Kinetics. Moreover, this generation prefers to order and pay for food online, especially those they cannot find at home, such as hot and ready pizza. Therefore, if the local pizzerias do not offer that option, they will opt for brands such as Domino’s, Papa John’s, and Pizza Hut, which all offer delivery and online payment options.
According to Gen Z Insights, the on-demand food delivery market is estimated at over $210 billion, with 60% of that opportunity driven by pizza ordering. In another study by Technomic (a management consulting company), 49% of consumers aged 18-34 order food online more often than ever. Again, 78% of American students, in particular, Gen Z spend 24% of their money on food more than rent and clothes. These trends have attracted investments in this segment. YUM!, the owner of brands such as Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut agreed with GrubHub to test and launch online ordering for pickup and delivery services to of U.S. restaurants. Additionally, in 2017, Pizza Hut added 14,000 new drivers to its payroll. Overall, these stats and assertions dovetail nicely with the notion that online ordering and delivery is a must for any Pizzeria marketing to Gen Z.
2. DOMINOS PIZZA EMOJI
In 1998, while working for DoCoMo (Japanese mobile communication company), Shigetaka Kurita invented emojis. 17 years later, in 2015 — Domino's launched the ‘Easy Order Campaign’ allowing consumers to order for pizza on Twitter by tweeting a pizza emoji. Occasionally dubbed as the language of Gen Z — emojis have become widely accepted in the marketing domain. Domino’s pizza emoji ordering tactic was driven by a permanent chatbot facilitating the entire process from ordering to delivery.
The impact of this mundane activity was felt across social media and the company. Domino's integrated the innovative idea into its business model, and now customers can either text or tweet pizza emoji to place an order. The idea was perceived as something unique and innovative that not only attracted the Gen Z alone but also older cohorts who also got the opportunity to learn a few emojis. The campaign created a buzz across social media and even won the Cannes Titanium Grand Prix under the category of the most breakthrough idea of 2016. As a result of using emojis, Domino's registered an overall 10.7% same-store sales growth, and 1.5 billion earned media impressions.
3. MOBILE-FIRST APPROACH & PICKUP WINDOWS
Gen Z — the most coveted customers of today are driving innovations across businesses seeking to get a pie of their money. In this regard, successful examples of companies have demonstrated that the mobile-first approach is the way to go. Why? Gen — Z have grown with a mobile phone in their hand. Accudata indicates that on average, Gen Z spends 12.5% (three hours) or more per day on mobile apps.
Equally, Think with Google asserts that 61% of this generation shops online primarily due to convenience more than for any other reason. As such, it is sensical to devise a restaurant with a business model revolving around mobile technology. David Bloom, the Chief Development Officer at Capriotti‘s (sandwich shop), thinks so as well. At the core of this strategy is a pickup window where users pick their meals. Tacos is also using the same approach and claims to receive 30% higher average order values through mobile than in-store orders.
These results have attracted fast-casual restaurants such as Pizza Hut, which is exploring a more innovative solution. The chain seeks to incorporate “Curbside’s ARRIVE location technology,” providing cloud-based arrival prediction services that would alert kitchen staff when the customers are close to the restaurant to ensure the food will be fresh and ready by the time they pull up. The technology eliminates actual wait time and delay frustrations customers and restaurants have experienced in the past due to slow service.
While time and convenience are the most critical factors for consumers, especially Gen Z, QSR Magazine, curbside pickup options, and dedicated pickup windows at fast-casual and quick-service restaurants characterize the early signs of a new approach to market to Gen Z. Capriotti’s which already has integrated this technology to their business model claims that the pickup window now accounts for 10–20% of the total store sales.