Papa Johns, Watch Out for This Competitor

Photo: Marco’s Pizza
Photo: Marco’s Pizza

Making a name for oneself in the fast food pizza landscape isn’t an easy task. The leading “big four” chains—that’s Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, and Papa Johns—have locations just about everywhere, and their marketing spend ensures they maintain a strong hold on the public’s wallets. But now, Restaurant Dive reports, a new competitor is ready to challenge the big dogs. Papa Johns, watch out for Marco’s Pizza.

What is Marco’s Pizza?

Marco’s Pizza is currently the fifth-largest pizza chain by sales in the country, and it is inching ever closer to stealing Papa Johns’ fourth-place spot in the rankings. The relatively new pizza chain looks poised to achieve that goal, considering it reached $1 billion in annual sales last year and has an aggressive growth plan already underway.

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This “emerging handhelds category” has already been kicking around at Marco’s direct competitors in the form of the Papa Johns Papadia and Pizza Hut’s Melts.

The Papadia from Papa Johns, at its most basic level, can be described as two slices of pizza folded over and pressed. According to the brand’s website, Papadias “make ideal finishing touches to any pizza order for a party, a family dinner, or even just a low-key Saturday night at home, as well as great ways to dress up an otherwise humdrum lunch hour!” Sound familiar?

Pizza Hut’s Melts are also a force to be reckoned with. Each Melt is two slices of sauceless pizza folded over onto each other, baked, and served as a handheld that comes in varieties such as Pepperoni Lover’s, Buffalo Chicken, Meat Lover’s, and Chicken Bacon Parmesan. All varieties are served with a sauce on the side and are meant to be eaten as an individual entree rather than shared like a pizza. The website calls it “an all-new way to go solo.”

The pizza category, primarily associated with shareable occasions like parties and family dinners, is now scrambling to innovate individual serving formats. The Pizzoli is one more way for Marco’s Pizza to compete with the legacy behemoths it’s up against, and that should make the Big Four nervous. Don’t underestimate the new kid on the block.

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