The pizza chains that have sustained the recession and continue to grow have a well-carved-out niche. That's the verdict issued from Technomic, a food service research firm, and reported today by, an online site dedicated to franchise news.
Despite the past two years' relatively flat sales throughout most of the limited-service pizza industry, the top 100 pizza chains had U.S. sales of $18.8 billion in 2008, up 2 percent over 2007. Compare that with the 0.4 percent growth for the total limited-service pizza industry, whose gross sales reached $29 billion.
"Most successful pizza chains have staked out highly-defined market positions that allow them to stand out from the pack," said Darren Tristano, EVP at Technomic. "The key to growth in the slow economy will be differentiation. Top players will have to understand the competition, successfully identify emerging trends, and find and execute a strong position in the market."
Technomic released a report in September that noted some stand-out examples of differentiation, including Little Caesar's $5 Hot-N-Ready value-centric campaign, Pizza Fusion's "Fresh, Organic and Earth Friendly" mantra, Papa Murphy's "Take ‘N Bake" slant, and Pizza Patron's demonstrable "ethnic consumer focus" via the Pizza for Pesos campaign.

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