Empathica Inc., a provider of Customer Experience Management solutions, has released its pizza/pasta brand findings from the 2013 Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Benchmark Study.

Papa Murphy's take-and-bake model seems to resonate favorably with consumers, who ranked it the highest. The "big four" — Pizza Hut, Domino's, Papa John's and Little Caesars — all had the same "percent delighted" scores from the study, which surveyed 10,000 U.S. consumers.

Brand rankings were determined in categories such as food, staff and atmosphere, as well as the drivers behind social media engagement and loyalty. QSR guests were asked to rate their recent visit to a pizza/pasta chain on a number of factors, and a "percent delighted" score was calculated by averaging ratings of overall satisfaction, likelihood of revisiting, value for money paid and likelihood of recommending. The Benchmark Study then ranked the brands on customer "delight" with their visits. The rankings include:

  1. Papa Murphy's – 68 percent
  2. Fazoli's – 49 percent
  3. Pizza Hut – 48 percent
  4. Papa John's – 48 percent
  5. Domino's Pizza – 48 percent
  6. Little Caesars – 48 percent
  7. CiCi's Pizza – 43 percent
  8. Hungry Howie's – 32 percent
  9. Sbarro – 26 percent
  10. Chuck E. Cheese's – 24 percent

Papa Murphy's ranked highest across all key customer outcome measures — and nearly 20 percent more than its closest competitor — including overall customer satisfaction (68 percent), good value for what customers paid (66 percent), customer likelihood to revisit (70 percent) and customer likelihood to recommend (66 percent).

"The results get really interesting when we look at what the brands claim to offer and promise customers versus what they deliver," said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer at Empathica. "Pizza Hut ranks number one on drive-thru (67 percent), a testimony to its push on convenience. Papa Murphy's — which allows customers to take pizzas home to cook in their own ovens — delighted the most customers (69 percent) in the carry-out category, while Papa John's ranked highest for dine-in (56 percent)."

Price and food are king

When asked why they selected a pizza/pasta brand over other chains, guests consistently cited price and food taste as the top reasons for visiting. Guests answered either price or food as the top reason they visited the seven highest-ranked chains.

Guests also selected pizza chains based on speed and efficiency of staff, coupons or promotional offers, menu choices and location convenience.

"Restaurant loyalty is determined by many different factors, including product, service, speed, price and environment. From a practical standpoint, it's almost impossible to outperform your competitors in every category. To succeed, pizza/pasta QSRs have to narrow their focus to a few elements that have the potential to make the biggest impact on loyalty levels. By focusing on and owning one or two competitive categories — as Pizza Hut 'owns' the drive-thru category — QSRs can significantly improve repeat business," Edwards said.

Check Sizes don't indicate superior customer satisfaction

Despite the fact that Chuck E. Cheese's ranked lowest in overall customer satisfaction (24 percent), visitors spent more money per visit at Chuck E. Cheese's than at any other chain surveyed. While the average amount spent per visit at a pizza/pasta QSR is $18 for males and $20 for females, visitors spent an average of $40.50 during their last visit to Chuck E. Cheese's. Little Caesars and Sbarro brought in the lowest amount of money per visit, with male and female customers spending $12 to $14 and $11 to $17, respectively.

"Chuck E. Cheese's brings in a significantly larger amount of money per visit than any other pizza/pasta QSR, likely because the establishment is known for hosting large groups of children for occasions such as birthday parties and for being a place for families to go for both a meal and entertainment," Edwards said. "But despite the fact that the chain makes more money per visit, Chuck E. Cheese's is likely not seeing as many repeat visits as other chains that offer an experience suited to day-to-day needs, not just special occasions. Adults will continue to return to Chuck E. Cheese's for their children, but their loyalty will remain with chains that excel in top loyalty drivers, such as price and food taste."

Read more about trends and statistics.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • George Resconich
    18401445
    The article on pizza/pasta brand findings from the 2013 Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Benchmark Study states that the big four had the same percent delighted scores of 48%, yet you rank the big four in places 3 to 6. In fairness, they all should have ranked as T-3rd.
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