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Comparing messaging, marketing and brand perception of popular pizza chains

There’s something comforting about chain restaurants – knowing that when you order your favourite dish, you’ll know exactly what’s going to arrive, without fail. Consistency is underrated.  

The pizza industry has grown to be one of the largest segments in the food industry, with an estimated worth of £2.1 billion. However, the likes of Pizza Express, Domino’s and all other mid-tier pizzerias are surprisingly similar. These pizza restaurants have the same price points, the same deals, and the same perception of consistency, but in a crowded industry, many chains fail to differentiate their marketing from their competitors.

Food brands are utilising Relative Insight to understand the competitive environment. Relative Insight is a text analytics platform that pinpoints the linguistic differences between two or more text data sets. Our comparative approach to text analysis offers a unique solution to companies, who want to analyse and compare the brand messaging and brand perception of significant competitors.

For this white space analysis, we’ve taken a journey into the heart of pizza marketing, investigating how pizza chains position themselves in a busy landscape, and how customers also speak about these brands on social media.

Brand messaging

Firstly, we pulled the website copy and social media content of Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Zizzi, Bella Italia, Prezzo, Frankie and Benny’s and Franco Manca, and uploaded these competitor data sets directly to Relative Insight.

We then compared each pizza brand’s marketing and communications against all other competitors in the set, to discover what was unique or similar about them and assess the competitive landscape. The platform reveals an endless number of insights which couldn’t possibly fit in one article, but here’s the most interesting…

Pizza Express

A main difference of Pizza Express was that they use Twitter to promote competitions. The words win and competition are 3.9x more likely to appear in this data set, meaning that other pizza competitors are less likely to use this marketing strategy. This an opportunity which competitors could be utilising to engage with their consumer base and attract new customers.

Pizza Hut

In contrast, Pizza Hut are 16.5x more likely to talk about children throughout their messaging. They discuss their child friendly options and emphasise that their “servers have children’s needs at the front of their minds.” This is appealing to parents with young children as an option for eating out with little fuss.

Prezzo

We found that Prezzo are 3.4x more likely to mention the word family and the phrase family feast. Prezzo position their brand as a family-orientated restaurant, that acts as the host of celebrations and special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. However, whereas Pizza Hut place emphasis on being a children-friendly restaurant, Prezzo talk more holistically about being a place for families (of all ages) to celebrate.

Zizzi

Our analysis also uncovered that Zizzi are 3.6x more likely to use words such as friends and great times throughout their communications. By suggesting going for food with friends, Zizzi make their restaurant seem like a social hotspot. However, this also provides them with an opportunity to get more customers.

pizza competitors insights - Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, Zizzi, Prezzo

Bella Italia

Our analysis found that Bella Italia is 5.5x more likely to talk about their range of dishes on offer at the restaurant, such as pasta and carbonaro. Clearly, Bella Italia is capitalising on the fact that their restaurant has variety and choice, which differentiates them from other players who primarily serve pizza.

Franco Manca

Franco Manco are unique in offering sourdough pizza, and they are infinitely more likely to talk about this on their website and social media. Franco Manca often just refer to their pizza as sourdough, and really own this section of the market in the pizza industry offering authentic, freshly made pizzas to their customers. They also mention how their pizza kits are available to enjoy at home.

pizza competitors insights - bella italia, franco manca

Brand perception

Analysing brand messaging is only half of the story. It’s vital to look at competitor research from customer’s perspective. Because if you’re not speaking in the same language as your customers, you might be missing the mark.

As an extra layer of analysis, we compared brand mentions of all eight pizza chain competitors on social media. This enabled us to understand how these competitors stack up in the eyes of the consumer and uncover key audience insights.

Using heatmaps

To decide which brands were the most and least different from a consumer point of view, we utilised Relative Insight’s Heatmaps feature. This visualisation tool quickly enables us to see which data sets have the most linguistic differences. This type of pre-analysis shows us which comparisons will yield the most interesting insights.

Heatmap of competitor brand perception

We found that the language used by Franco Manca, Prezzo, Zizzi and Bella Italia customers was the least different, which is a key insight in itself. You see, it’s important to explore the linguistics differences of the competitor you’re closest to, as these are usually the brands whose customer base and market share you could easily target.

Franco Manca

What’s interesting is that in tweets that mentioned Franco Manca, customers were infinitely more likely to speak about ordering sourdough pizza and pizza kits. This is an important insight as it shows that Franco Manca’s marketing efforts are being recognised by their customers, who see sourdough and pizza kits as their unique selling point. Clearly, Franco Manca’s brand strategy is aligning with their consumer base.

Prezzo

Prezzo consumers were infinitely more likely to talk about vouchers and rewards they could use at the chain. For instance, being able to use buyagift and Tesco Clubcard vouchers or saving money by going for dinner on a Tuesday or Wednesday with Meerkat Meals.

Zizzi

When compared to their main competitors, customers of Zizzi were dissatisfied with the quality of food, complaining that their pizza was soggy. An important reason that brands are using text analysis solutions such as Relative Insight is to spot consumer trends, particularly negative ones, in order to proactively remedy problems before they evolve. By knowing that Zizzi’s customer have this opinion on pizza, the brand can seek to rectify this issue.

Bella Italia

Our analysis revealed that Bella Italia customers took to twitter to express their disappointment and upset that their favourite dish has been taken off the menu – marco polo. This is a key insight which helps Bella Italia understand consumer reactions to changes in their menu, but also shows that competitors should test their strategies before implementing them.  

pizza competitors brand perception insights - Prezzo, Zizzi, Bella Italia, Franco Manca

Webinar: Know thy enemy – the art of competitor analysis

Competitor analysis is all too often based on numbers. But the reality is, understanding the language your competitors use to market themselves, and the language that customers are using, can help you differentiate your brand and reveal opportunities for you to tap into.

Join us for our last Spotlight Series event of the year, which will reveal new ways to find competitor insights and methods to decipher what’s really going on in the minds of consumers. Register now to hear speakers from the agency and brand showcase some of their own findings to help you start to strategise for 2022.

competitor analysis webinar