Lobster? Hot Italian sausage? Prosciutto with ricotta cheese? These might not be the most traditional pizza toppings out there, but believe it or not, according to a recent study by global marketing company Affinnova, these kinds of innovative topping offerings could actually help pizza franchises boost sales.
Affinnova surveyed customers’ preferences for nearly an infinite number of pizza possibilities, tracking preferences for dozens of cheeses, sauces, crusts, and topping possibilities and combinations. All in all, the study produced more than 2.5 billion potential pizza concept combinations. The optimized pizzas were then tested against in-market specialty pizzas.
Why all of this hype about flavors? “Marketers invest millions of dollars and months of development creating great tasting food products, but taste really doesn’t matter if you can’t drive trial purchases,” Affinnova President and CEO Waleed Al-Atraqchi recently said in a statement. “To drive trial purchases, a new product must first create an expectation of a great tasting flavor – or an anticipated taste – with the consumer.”
Ultimately, the Affinnova study found that “consumer perceptions of flavors are highly flexible; flavors which at first sound uninteresting become more tempting when combined with other ingredients.” This flexibility can power breakthrough products as well as drive growth. “Products with aggressive flavors can create enough differentiation to attract new consumers,” the study noted. The fascinating Affinnova report indicates that intense flavor combinations can actually help to boost incremental sales without taking sales away from existing products. For example, the study suggests adding a lobster, prosciutto, and spicy Italian sausage pizza to Papa John’s menu would boost the company’s sales by creating new interest and drawing new demand.
Furthermore, novelty is also a key factor when it comes to consumer perception of a flavor. “Consumers are intrigued by flavors that are not widely ingrained in their local heritage,” the study explained. The idea is that these kind of novel flavor combinations attract consumer attention.
The study does prove an interesting point: Consumers like wacky flavor combinations. This point goes well beyond just the pizza franchise industry. From Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco to KFC’s Chicken Corsage to Boston Pizza’s Pizza Cake, seemingly bizarre combinations are generating brand hype and social media frenzy. Now is the time to mix up the options in the food industry.
Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.