For the past year, we’ve brought you ideas on how to market to college students in our series on university marketing. During this time we’ve been working with universities to ask students themselves why they buy pizza. There hasn’t been a study done on this group to date, so read on to find out some clues to selling more pizza to students.
Our Sample Group
We surveyed 171 college students on why they buy pizza. The surveys were conducted at the University of Mississippi, Colorado State University, Montana State University and Devry University in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The students surveyed were in undergraduate and graduate level marketing classes. The sample group was 54.4 percent male and 45.6 percent female. Most of the students were juniors and seniors. Read on for the results.
Where to Buy Pizza
The biggest factor in making a decision on where to buy a pizza was price for 37.4 percent of students. Quality followed closely at 33.3 percent. Surprisingly, only 9.9 percent thought coupons were important in deciding where to buy. Location and referral by a friend were the least important factors.
The most popular reason not to order a pizza from a particular pizzeria was bad pizza. Over half of the students polled cited this as their number-one concern. Price was again another important factor in the decision making process. Almost 25 percent said they would not buy pizza from a certain restaurant because of the cost. Other reasons not to order from a pizzeria were: long wait (10.5 percent); bad service in the past (7.6 percent) and delivery charges (4.1).
Conclusion: Price and quality stand out in the mind most for students.
How the Pizza Is Built
We asked the students which part of the pizza was most important when they decided to buy a pizza. Students were fairly divided on crust and toppings being the most important; 28.1 percent were crust people, and 41.5 percent were for toppings. Almost 19 percent favored the sauce as most important, and 11.7 percent said it was the cheese that mattered.
Conclusion:The crust and toppings are the two factors students can decide on themselves.
How They Get Their Pizza
The next question was on the method of getting the pizza. The majority chose delivery as their means of getting pizza; 67.8 percent said this is their preference. Only 11.1 percent opted for dine-in. About 21 percent like to pick their pizza up.
Conclusion: Delivery continues to be the most popular way to attract students
How Often They Eat It
Ever wondered how often students ordered in a month. Well, we found that 37.4 percent order pizza once or twice a month, 19 percent order it only once a month, and 25 percent order it three or four times a month. Those ordering it five or more times a month came in at 17.5 percent.
Conclusion: Most students eat pizza every month.
Which Chains Do Students Pick Most?
Most students polled picked Papa John’s as their favorite chain restaurant (34.5 percent). Domino’s followed at 23 percent and Pizza Hut was number three at 18.7 percent. A little over 13 percent checked other chains. Seven percent said they don’t order from major chains.
Conclusion: Choices for pizza will continue to depend on the strength of the local management.
Do Students Use Coupons?
When asked if they use coupons as a factor in deciding where to buy pizza, most students said this was not the most important factor, but we found that 66 percent of them use them. The other 34 percent said they don’t use them.
Conclusion: Students are looking for the best deal.
When Do Students Eat Pizza?
The majority of students said they eat pizza for dinner (69.5 percent). Very few eat it for lunch (9.4 percent).
Wonder who’s calling after 11 p.m.? It’s hungry students. Twenty-one percent said they order it when then have the late night munchies.
Conclusion: Night is the time students are awake studying and partying. Pizza is a good, quick meal that they don’t have to go get.
Does Advertising Matter?
It matters more than you may think. Thirty-nine percent said they pay some attention to ads. Only 7 percent said it mattered a great deal. A little more than a third said it didn’t matter that much, while 19 percent said it didn’t matter at all.
Conclusion: It seems that many students are hearing or seeing the ads. They are probably saving box toppers and mailers with coupons so they get the best deal. I know when I was in school I always kept the pizza coupons from the box full of junk I got at the post office every week.
Do Delivery Charges Matter?
The overwhelming response was, “Yes, it matters” to 72 percent of the students. Only 28 percent said they didn’t care.
Conclusion: This is a factor to consider in college towns where delivery is prevalent.
Do Students Want Restaurant or Frozen Pizza?
Again students are lazy or busy, the majority, 66 percent said they want it fresh, hot and delivered. Only a third prefer frozen.
Conclusion: Most students are eating out. The percentage that buy frozen might be influenced to buy take ‘n’ bake as it moves in to more markets.
There you have it. Students are out to get the best tastes for the best price. They like coupons and specials. They want it brought to them. College kids like to make their decisions based on limited budgets and convenience. It seems the marketing is working. Keep up the good work!