When it comes to pizza, I’ve never met a pie I didn’t love. In other words, I’m probably less choosy about pizza than any other food. If it’s hot, fresh and ready to serve, I’m there. But according to a recent study by restaurant industry consultancy Aaron Allen & Associates, today’s pizza lovers — especially younger customers — are choosing convenience, efficiency and freshness over the classic mom-and-pop slice down the street. Driven by significant investments in technology by national chains, as well as more sophisticated menus from upstart brands, America’s traditional independent pizzerias are feeling the squeeze.
The AA&A study claims that these independent pizzerias are disappearing at an alarming rate — more than 2,500 locations just last year. Over the past decade, that contraction has translated to a loss of more than 20% of the total market share. Yet in the same period, national chains like Domino’s have grown tremendously, increasing their market capitalization and betting on new ideas for a new generation of customers.
That’s where technology comes in. The AA&A study highlights the rapid growth of digital and online ordering platforms versus dine-in ordering — roughly 300% — representing billions of dollars’ worth of business in the coming years.
So even while pizza category sales are down overall, the big names are thriving (and even growing) thanks to a few simple ingredients: digital innovation in ordering, brand activation across social media and other mobile platforms, online rewards programs and more.
But for the sake of neighborhood pizza joints everywhere, let’s hope we don’t lose sight of a simple truth: The best things in life — and the best pizzas — are worth waiting for.