Why does lousy pizza sell?

It is been a little over a year now that I had to close my shop due to health reasons. In that time, the quality of the major chains product has fallen, one other independent has closed his doors and a new small local chain has opened. So, now our small town, 12000 people, has three yes, 3 Pizza Huts, one PJ’s a Gatties, and the two independents. The two local stores have a product that most people would not feed to the dogs, it has no flavor, cardboard curst, lousy cheese and most of the time it is not completly cooked. What I would like to know is why do people buy lousy, no good, no taste pizza and pay a premium price for it. I just cant understand it. I am sure glad that I am not in the business any more.


I wonder this just about every day. I cant stand the mere smell of certain pizzas like hungry howies and yet they sell tons of pies! I have no idea why people who eat it don’t go “wow this tastes like crap”

  1. tastes differ
  2. tastes differ

I always wondered why ANYONE would order from Little Caesars. I have traveled the country, and am amazed by some of the regional pizza leaders.

Think of it this way, I love this great Vietnamese place. Food spicy as heck. My wife hates it. My wife loves lutefisk. Makes me want to puke.

Your sauce may be special with just an extra hint of XXXX, but I can’t stand the taste of XXXX.

Pizza Hut may not have the best pizza around, but they have a pizza that is good to the most people.

Top reason is marketing, McDonalds has proven that food doesnt have to be high quality to sell.

I agree it all comes down to marketing marketing marketing and then some more marketing , also the big chains thend to produce a more consistant product so people know what to expect remember this "it may be K…P , but its consistant k…p ,

Thanks for the explanations but this town does not follow the norm. It seems that there are two places that even the dogs stay away from. But they are always busy. One is new the other is an old time tradition. No advertising in the media for these folks, No givaways, no flyers, no nothing. Yet two national chains with sit down eateries have closed there doors because of lack of sales. Oh well, I guess that I should start a research project as to why people insist on eating lousy food. Maybe I can get a million dollor grant for the project, finish it in a year and have traveled the country and made more than the shop could have made in three years. LOL

I’d agree that marketing is a big part of it. But, not always advertising–big difference.

Price is always a big factor. Consistency, the customer knowing what they’ll get. Speed of service. Type of service. Atmosphere. And, yes, taste. Some people, I’d venture to say MANY, would actually prefer a different type of food if they were told it was better, by someone they trust.

Peer pressure, laziness, and fear of the unknown are about the worst things any new business faces. How long was Rico’s in business? What kind of market share did YOU have at the time? (Sorry to hear about the health issues, hoping you’re doing all right) Given time, if a good place can survive, the customers will find it.

Let me make a couple of commets to the posts of others. I agree that marketing is a large part of any business success. I also agree that one of the reasons for people going to the large chains is that they can get the same or close to the same quality from place to place. Here in this market, there are 3, count them, 3 Pizza Huts all owned by the same owner and all three put out a product that is completely different from each other. Sometimes, one is good and sometimes all are bad. Now this is in a town of 12,000 people.

It seems that price is not a factor. Last night I got a pie that was below average. It was a premade curst, no flavor to it, no flavor in the sauce and the cheese was as cheep as it gets. The price was higher than that of any of the competers in town for the same size and toppings, yet they were busy. The place had been open for 8 months.

As for my shop, I was there for a year and a half. Produced a product that was by most standards above normal. We used the best products from oil to cheese. I was given thumbs up from large independent shop owners in Indianapolis and other areas. I had a customer base that included Bloomington, Indianapolis, Greenwood, and other towns within a 20 mile radis. I had a great following from transplanted eastcoasters. They said that my pie reminded them of home. We offered both take and bake as well as take out delivery and dine in.
As far as my market share, well that I can not be accurate. But as far as sales and increase of purchases go, I was increacing each month by 53 to 79 persent. This increase was mainly via word of mouth and largely from outside of the town limits.

By the way, one national chain sit down steak house closed here shortly after mine because of lack of sales. They had just really inproved there offerings and upgraded there menu. There food before was modertly good and they did a great business. After the upgrade, there quality improve, prices the same and sales declined.

what about convenience of location. THIS is about 80% of all people decide there meal around. Was the place located next to the town grocery or other huge crowd anchor?
This thread is interesting to me.

roller, all of the eateries in this area are all in high traffic locations with other shopping. Location is really not an issue in this case.

I have figured out this Golden Kernal of fact. People will choke down anything, no matter the taste or nutrional value of the “food” for a buck. McDonalds proves that everyday! Dollar menus are CRAP food. But sell like crazy. At my store the most popular question from call-ins is “What’s on special?” I swear if I told them a Hot Fecal Pizza is half off today most people would say “Great give me 2!” and then tell me they have an Entertainment Coupon for half off that they also want to use IN ADDITION to the half off special price and then when told they can’t combine specials get indignant. I say sell Fecal Pizza call it a special and take coupons to just think if you eat enough of your good pizza you can make plenty of “special” pizzas with very low food cost. EEEEWWWW!~

OK, here’s my two pennies worth.
What is “lousy” pizza? What is “great” pizza?
Quality is a preception based on a number of factors, in this case things like appearance (presentation), price/value, temperature, maybe crispiness, and convenience will all enter into the picture. And lets not forget about what the locals are actually accostomed to. Rmemmber, in northern Turkey the local delicacy is rancid yak butter. Yum, yum!
Not my first choice for sandwich spread, but they sure do love it. And then there is the Australian delight called Veggiemite (not sure of the spellling) again, not my first choice to put on my breakfast toast, but in Australia there are a bunch of people who seem to like it. Point is, we can’t judge others by our own likes and dislikes.
Another example; I used to ask my students who made, in their opinion, the worst pizza. The most common answer was Domino’s. How strange I thought that was. They are one of the MOST successful pizza chains ever.
We have a local pizzeria where I live that does a land office business on lunch for the local highschool kids. When we have questioned tham about this they say that they like to go there because it is cheap and fast…hummm, they never even mentioned anything about how good or bad the pizza was, and yes, there are other pizzerias within the same block, but they don’t get hit during the noon time like this place does. Go figure. Oh yes, did I mention that the pizzeria in discussion here, in my opinion, makes one of the poorer quality pizzas in town. Beauty and quality many times are closely related, they are judged in the eye of the beholder. I was once treated to a glass of fine brandy, aged longer than I am old, and selling for $700.00 for a 500 ml. bottle. I had to choke the stuff down. In my opinion, it tasted like “Old Spice” after shave lotion, the others kept commenting on the wonderful “boquet” of the aroma. I’m sure glad I wasn’t buying that stuff.
The only really lousy pizza was served by the store that had to close due to lack of sales, and then it probably really wasn’t all that bad, it was just wrong for the place or location in some aspect.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Tom, great post!
I have had many $10 bottles of wine that taste far better than $100 bottles!

Give up the thought that Mc Donald’s food is poor. It is good. Not great, good. It’s cheap, and fast, and reliable. I used to travel for a living, and so ate out all the time. I really pushed myself to eat local. Not an easy thing. The worst part of it was it was a 50/50 shot. Half the time the food was great, half the time it was awful. So after a few bad experiences, I would just go with safe for a while.

When you look at worst anything, keep in mind that you are looking for a common thread. I remember one poll a few years (decades) ago that had Madonna ranked as both the BEST artist, and the WORST in the same reader poll. Right now on iTunes, the top selling song has an average user rating of only 2 stars.

None of us make our living off the people that don’t like us. Just because 100 people don’t like your pizza doesn’t mean your place is bad.

Not one time can I ever remember the phone ringing and hearing the question, “Is your pizza good?”

I know that I did answer that question on the first week that I opened but not on the phone. A dusty farmer walked in the shop and asked if the pizza was good in his New Jersey accent. I told him yes so he ordered. The first thing he did was taste only the crust. A few moments later he said "you have a million dollor crust, I’m sold. He was in twice a week from then till I closed. He always brought new customers with him each time he came and they also stayed. Hard to beat a recomendation from a guy who lived in Jersey.

Tom Lehmann wrote:
“The only really lousy pizza was served by the store that had to close due to lack of sales, and then it probably really wasn’t all that bad, it was just wrong for the place or location in some aspect.”

What could this person do to increase sales then? Lower prices, start making poorer pizza?

[size=5]Location,marketing,Consistancy & Price.[/size]


Yes lousy pizza does sell…

We used to put a note on the bottom of our takeout menus…
If you want cheap pizza for the baby sitter call xxx-xxxx
If you want great pizza for the family and guests call zzz-zzzz

For cheap pizza we inserted the number of another local store…Drove him crazy…Not sure how much he paid for the lawyers to try and make us stop…We did not stop because it worked and we were not breaking any laws…We just called it as we saw it…He called it libel but truth is a defense to libel…His prices were cheaper…

Part B of the plan was to advertise they used fake cheese, however, they shut down before we had a chance…We had lab results to back our claim…


Not a “poorer” pizza, but maybe just a different pizza. We had a student in our seminar a number of years ago who had a store located very close to one of those gated retirement communities. While their daily shopping bus stopped at their strip mall, they had almost no customers from the retirement community. When we discussed his concerns we decided that maybe his pizza was not “age group” friendly. Read that as too spicy. We helped him develop a sweet tasting sauce and he advertised it as a “new, sweet tasting sauce for discriminating tastes” and then he gave out free slices. He only had to get that new pizza sauce into the hands of a few people from the retirement community and the word began to spread. “Pizza without the heartburn!” was their battle cry. Now, his customers could choose between the sweet (just a hint of garlic, but no oregano or dried basil) or the regular (no sugar added and slightly spicy). In the end, he did well with his new found customers from the retirement community. Sometimes that’s all it takes, each case is different. I once worked with a fellow in San Diego whose store was on the wrong side of the road. People had to turn against the flow of traffic to get out of his store in the evening. What a pain!! As a result, he missed out on a lot of the dinner sales. What did he do? He began selling box lunches to people GOING to work in the morning. He already had all the prep space and most of the “makings” so what he lost in the dinner trade, he more than made up in his box lunch trade. Sometomes ya just gotta go with the “flow”.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

As I mentioned before, I used to travel a lot. One thing every body seems to forget is when advertising to tourists, “best pizza in town” just doesn’t do it. I’ve had a ton of lousy pizza advertised as “best in town”. What I ended up doing was looking for the same old same old, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, etc. I knew it would be good, and I knew I wasn’t going to pay a premium price for a second rate pizza.

I don’t know the solution, but keep in mind to hotels that you are unknown.