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Pizza predictions

Predicting is risky business. It opens a big door to the possibility that, some day, people will point a finger at us and scream, "Boy, were you wrong!" Regardless, here are some of my fearless predictions. I confidently assert that at least 50 percent of them will some day occur. All you need to do is figure out which 50 percent it will be (because it's a mystery to me). MULTIPLE SAUCES. Product and menu evolution is ongoing and inevitable. Accordingly, we're going to see some pizzerias adopting a "sauce menu," much like the "topping menus" we've had for the last half-century.

MULTIPLE TOPPING LINES. Most pizzerias carry a line of traditional toppings. A few have a line of gourmet toppings. We're going to see some pizzerias including both on the menu: a traditional topping line and a gourmet topping line (at a premium price, of course).

MULTIPLE VARIETIES OF FAVORITE TOPPINGS. Pizza-eaters focus on a few favorite toppings-mainly pepperoni, Italian sausage and mushrooms. Most pizzerias carry just one type of each. Soon, some pizzerias will thrill customers by offering two or more choices for each of their favorite toppings. And while doing that, they'll offer a choice of cheeses, too.

DIET PIZZA. For years I've been predicting this and for years, so far, I've been wrong. Still, I believe that "Diet Pizza" will come. If you happen to believe so, too, check out the PMQ spring 2000 edition for how-to ideas.

NOVELTY PIZZAS. The new-pizza trend will continue because "new" pizzas boost sales (unfortunately usually only temporarily). Building on this, some pizzerias will begin making perennial novelty pizzas (a special pizza for each particular holiday or season).

MIND-SHAPING PACKAGING. Virtually all pizza companies use the same box (the only difference being ink). However, the key to victory in the pizza wars today is differentiation. As a result, we're going to see the emergence of GSI (Graphics-Structure Integration)-the use of unique, high-powered boxes that project a special image and drive home a competition-differentiating message by integrating a unique cover contour with a particular graphic or message.

OPERATIONAL STREAMLINING. Many pizza concepts that started as models of simplicity have evolved into toy boxes of confusion. In reaction to this, we're going to see the emergence of "back-to-basics concepts" that espouse a limited menu (like, perhaps, one size of pizza only) and simple operations (like, maybe, carry-out only). This prediction may appear to be a direct contradiction to the first few predictions. However, seemingly opposing trends often occur simultaneously-even in the same company.

LEG-EQUIPPED BOXES. When a loaded, hot pizza box sits on a customer's table, the pizza's temperature plummets as the heat of the pizza rapidly conducts through the bottom panel of the box and into the tabletop. Instant condensation also forms on the tabletop, making the box bottom soggy. To overcome those two conditions some pizzerias will adopt a leg-equipped box that holds the bottom panel of the box about a half-inch above the tabletop, thereby keeping the pizza hotter and leaving the box "high and dry."

MIND-BOGGLING P.O.S. TECHNOLOGY. If you think that current P.O.S. (point-of-sale) technology is versatile, exciting and confusing, you ain't seen nothin' yet. The next few years will bring mind-boggling features and functionality, such as automated order-taking, food order placement, multi-language capability, virtual call center (one-number) capability, debit card handling, expanded internet ordering, true one-to-one marketing and on and on. The proliferation of options and features will be scary and mind-numbing. Because of that, I predict that the P.O.S. company that will win the "computer wars" will be the one that first figures out how to make all this hyper-expanding technology user-friendly.

A WRAP-UP POTPOURRI. So many things will be happening in the pizza world in the next few years that limited space precludes a complete discussion of each. But, to scratch the surface, here's a short list of a few more trends that I predict will occur: No-fold boxing, carry-out guarantees, intellectual property wars, focus on leadership systems, nutritional labeling, one-person pizza stores, struggle for core identity among chains, drive for differentiation among all pizza companies, post-purchase surveying, loose-tight franchise operations, field-based innovation systems and focus on satisfaction over super-service. PMQ

John Correll author, consultant, inventor, speaker and perhaps the foremost authority on the pizza industry. He's former pizza chain owner, corporate executive with 30 years working in all areas of our industry.
John can be reached at 734-455-5830 or
Copyright  2000, John Correll. May not be reproduced in any form.