According to Nation’s Restaurant News, “even though the pie of pizza segment sales may not be growing, some specialized chains have been able to carve out a bigger slice of it thanks to their differentiation, according to the latest research from consulting firm Technomic.”

“In its “2009 Technomic Top 100 Limited-Service Pizza Chains Restaurant Report,” released Thursday, the Chicago-based firm found that the fastest-growing chains in the heavily saturated pizza segment are ones with highly focused positioning.”

“’Most successful pizza chains have staked out highly defined market positions that allow them to stand out from the pack,’ Technomic executive vice president Darren Tristano said in a statement. ‘The key to growth in the slow economy will be differentiation. Top players will have to understand the competition, successfully identify emerging trends, and find and execute a strong position in the market.’”

“Technomic’s report identified several trends or niches powering certain restaurant chains to high rates of growth, including a healthful and environmentally friendly positioning for Pizza Fusion and a focus on the Hispanic demographic for Pizza Patrón. Technomic also recognized Papa Murphy’s for leading the take-and-bake pizza niche and pointed out Little Caesars as a leader in value for that chain’s $5 Hot-N-Ready Pizza. For all the smaller chains’ strong rates of growth, however, those upstart brands are not likely to reach nationwide megachain status for a while due to the pizza segment’s heavy saturation, Tristano said in an interview.”

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