Anyone succeeding in a 'tough' local demographic?


Again I’m contemplating opening up pizza delivery. But I have yet to get an answer to this so a couple years later maybe people will ‘understand’ what I’m asking.

Ok. I never know how to get people to understand. In this day and age, there is an average of 50% of households that do not report speaking English in my city. These households where I live, do NOT eat pizza in their diet (and most other food like fish and chips etc). This is not a latin population if that’s what you may think. So only the larger franchises succeed where I live. They have pretty much claimed the market with no competition from a little guy.

People who say ‘everyone eats pizza!’ just don’t understand. Trust me they do NOT.

Is there anyone that is in similar demographic of ‘non pizza eaters’ that are able to succeed? The rent here is very cheap actually and there still is a 50% ‘pizza eating’ population available. I’m trying to see the glass as half full.

Can someone shed their comments on if they are in a similar situation and if it helps or hurts your situation. (cause one could say it actually HELPS your situation due to lack of competition etc)…

I do not speak from this experience but plenty of restaurants adjust their menus to reflect the local eating habits. Like you said…you have 50% of the population that you will pull from. Use that as a starting point by offering a higher quality pizza than the big companies offer and then bring in the non-pizza eaters. Offer specialty pizzas with local enjoyed toppings. This will take trial and error to make the new ingredients work but should payoff in the long run. Sit down and make a list of what the most popular food in the area is and then ask “how can I make that a pizza?” and go from there. Best of luck too you.

Hi Cash

As I have often stated I am not an operator but I am an ardent observer of the food service industry and the pizza industry specifically.

In your situation I think you should determine what that half of your potential market prefers to eat
and have half your menu offer items that conform to their taste.

A few years back all the chains and most independent pizza operators had basically abandoned Detroit. A small operator saw a niche. They started from nothing and offered a menu that appealed to the vast majority of Detroit resident in addition to pizza.

The above operator offered ribs, fried chicken (not just wings), shrimp, fish, and sides that reflected the preferences of the local population. This outfit is now approaching 50 shops and is now expanding into the suburbs and giving the basic pizza operations a run for the money.

Perhaps you should copy their plan?

George Mills

George has some good insights about a varied menu. Don’t lose yourself, but consider enough variety to attract that “other half”.

That said, you got two dynamics to consider: population density/total and that “rent is cheap” thing you mentioned. Cheap rent usually means reduced disposable income groups, and it means higher than normal “grind”, which is turnover of existing customer base. I am only suggesting that large rental communities/neighborhoods will probably require higher frequency of marketing and higher marketing budget. When they move, you gotta get that new tenant. If there are enough rooftops in the service area, then you can draw business that might pay off. You gotta have really good demographics/home count to make that decision. It may be better to seek out “uncontested ground” unless you think you can make a good showing with a good quality product that will attract people who are not “price addicts”.

But do not get such a varied menu folks forget you are a pizza place…

Roy got it zeroed in again. Keep pizza the main event, and have enough variations on that theme, plus a few other side events (a couple sandwiches, wings, pasta, ribs, tofu, pho whatever) to interest some other pallets.

And what if half of those homes and more do not speak English, are from other countries, are low income, and do not participate in the activity of ordering in food.

What if basically it’s ‘pointless’ trying to attract them? (trust me they do not order in food of any kind and I can 100% guarantee will not be ordering from my store). The difference with the Detroit people is they participate in ‘ordering food’ and local small business. Half the people in my city do not.

Man I’m starting to realize how on my own I am in this whole thing.

I have considered moving to a more ‘pizza friendly demographic’ in a smaller neighboring town. The problem with that is the usual… it’s an hour away form the wholesaler, 30 min from my house, etc etc. However, the citizens in that town does indeed eat pizza and participate in the local economy.

I feel so stuck. I’d be using all my income on this and don’t want to lose all my money because i’m not making numbers.

Hi Crush:

You now state:

And what if half of those homes and more do not speak English, are from other countries, are low income, and do not participate in the activity of ordering in food.

If you had stated the above in your initial posting you would have received much different answers.

Obviously your market is only half the population.

George Mills

Well, if you stop and think about it . . . . 50% of 10,000 homes is a different story from 50% of 2,000 homes. Ultimately, this is your decision . . . but you haven’t given us much of anything solid to help offer the guidance you’ve asked for. Every market everywhere has people who don’t speak English, and people who won’t eat pizza for any reason whatsoever. That is a given, I believe. The question is whether there is enough of a definable market to attract sufficient business to be stable and profitable. Stop looking at the “never will be’s” and start defining the “could be’s”. That is where part of your decision-making information will lie.

You’re sounding kind of resigned to lose at this point, only you know where you are at right now but without knowing the specific demographics and cultures you are dealing with, I would like to offer a suggestion.

Try to hire a couple of people from the culture in question, they can communicate with these potential customers and it would show them that they are welcome in your store. Explore the possibility of adding some pizza toppings from their culture. If they are Hispanic, maybe add some chorizo pies to your lineup. If another culture, do some research.


No not really.

I’ve looked at the towns that a lot of you are from and their demographics and naturally everyone where you guys live eat pizza. Where I am from, you will go out the whole day and will not here English being spoken in the background. All of these people do not order-in food… at all. Maybe latino’s do in the US, but these people don’t trust me 100% on this.

I have to face facts that this market isn’t viable and that’s why so many restaurants of all types close here. The only thing that is able to stay open are the large chains like Domino’s, Subways etc. I bet their profits are really low compared to other towns.

If I have half the demographic that everyone else does, I’m just going fail in given time. I thought maybe that since I’d be the only indie pizza place in my area, there’d be people wanting to try me, but there’s swarms of pizza franchises in my suburb, all seem to be low staffed and not very busy, but still able to stay alive…

I just have to realize that I’ll have to open up in other towns where people eat pizza and spend in their local economy. It seems to work for all of your guys.

I’m not sure it’s a good idea to take the ‘build it they will come’ approach in my suburb trust me.

I left in the parts that indicate to me “resigned to lose at this point.”
If you wanted to come in and have a safe place to vent and mourn the loss of your decision, then we are glad to let you have that place and let you grieve over your idea. It really does feel like that is what you were wanting deep down.

If Domino’s is staying open, then they are doing a volume business by definition. They live and die by m,oving pies out the door at their economy pricing schedule. So, we know at least enough people eat pizza on a weekly basis to support a “pizza factory” business.

We also know here on the think Tank that never, ever in any circumstance or marketplace anywhere that we have heard of, from anyone we give credibility to, . . . does “if you build, it they will come” make for a successful marketing plan. We all believe in intentional, well-thought, strategic, multi-faceted marketing on a continuous basis to drive existing customers in more often and to generate new customers. In fact, some of us even practice that belief every now and again :lol: