Hospitality

Will Pizza Hut’s Changes Enable it to Take a Greater Slice of the QSR Pie?

As a nostalgic Millennial, I have fond memories of Pizza Hut. I mean, what 90s kid didn’t want a birthday party catered by Pizza Hut? I still remember begging my mom to take me there to try out Stuffed-Crust Pizza. Almost certainly, those memories subconsciously nudged me to take notice when I recently read about Pizza Hut’s latest menu changes.

By March 2017, Pizza Hut will remove preservatives from its meats and cheeses. Also, the chicken used for pizza toppings will be free from antibiotics. According to a report from NPD, consumers are increasingly concerned with the ingredients in their food, and it seems that Pizza Hut’s leadership is paying close attention to these trends. Last year, the chain removed artificial colors and flavors from its core pizzas. How will this recent announcement from Pizza Hut be received by America’s diners? Let’s find out!

From June 2nd through June 5th, we asked over 3,000 U.S. consumers for their thoughts on Pizza Hut’s announcement. Here’s what we found:

Pizza hut - removing preservatives

Looking at topline results, we see that 3% of regular diners would go more often. The percentage who will not change their visits (13%) far outweighs those will go less frequently (2%). Furthermore, among those who dine at Pizza Hut (eliminating those who answered “I rarely or never eat at Pizza Hut”), 44% of people indicated that while they don’t go there regularly, they will now go more often. Seems like this menu change could win over lapsed diners!

Women were more receptive to the menu changes, as they were slightly more likely to indicate that they would eat at Pizza Hut more frequently. The expected growth among current diners is likely to come from city dwellers. There were no notable age differences, but those who eat there regularly and will go more often are more likely to have household income under $50K.

Unsurprisingly, this announcement did little to win over current customers. People who eat fast food at least once per week are more likely to answer “I already eat there regularly, and this will not change how often I go.” Notably, this menu change seems to have some influence among regular fast food diners who don’t regularly frequent Pizza Hut.Pizza hut - removing preservatives - QSR dining

These lapsed diners (“I don’t eat there regularly, but will go more often”) have a few things in common:

  • They are more likely to buy organic food.
  • They are more likely to buy environmentally-friendly products.
  • They are more likely to regularly read the nutritional labels of food before they purchase it.

According to this Fortune article, by 2020 there will be additional changes to Pizza Hut’s menu that will involve removing other additives from its pizzas. Based on this preliminary analysis, it appears that adopting a more “natural” approach could win over even more lapsed customers. It’ll be interesting to compare Pizza Hut’s financial performance with the results of this research.

Are you more likely to grab a slice at Pizza Hut as a result of these announcements? We’d love to hear your thoughts below!

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