Canadian Pizza Magazine

From the Editor’s Desk: March 2006

By Cam Wood   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

Unique experience

Are independent pizzerias missing out on a huge marketing opportunity because they see it as a non-issue?

Unique experience

Are independent pizzerias missing out on a huge marketing opportunity because they see it as a non-issue?

That was the question Canadian Pizza had following a session on trans fats and nutritional labelling.


For many pizzaiolos, the issue of trans fat in their product seems somewhat anti-climatic. They’ve been using more health-friendly olive oil in their dough for ages, and frankly, the debate over fat content in pizza dough wasn’t even there.

But, as we learned at the Guelph Food Technology Centre, the issue over trans fat isn’t just about health – it’s about consumer perspective. Noted Canadian scientist, Dr. Bruce Holub, said trans fat content in food came to the forefront of the consumer psyche because consumer interest groups wanted a platform to discriminate against.

Special interest groups wanted to “out” companies that were slowly “poisoning” their consumers by not informing them of the health risks related to high levels of trans fat consumption. These demands for disclosure about the content of trans fat in foods arose when the childhood obesity debate hit the headlines. Popular snack foods were the biggest culprit and the media was looking for a place to lay the blame.

But as Holub explained, the issue has been a concern with health professionals for some 25 years. It was just ignored and eventually forgotten about.

In the wake of the new media attention, some companies set to work on reformulating their recipes, consulting food scientists and redesigning their marketing plan to inform the consumer that their products were better and healthier.

Other companies just tweaked the marketing plan – it wasn’t about “we’ve found a better way,” it was about “we’ve been found out.”

And so the advertising campaign was ramped up – even in areas where there was almost no nutritional need to change. It became a hot-button marketing tool … and consumers continue to buy into it.

Any operator that uses olive oil in their kitchen need not worry about health issues related to trans fat. But they should worry about their marketing. The opportunity to promote their pizza crust as a healthy, trans fat-free option is ripe … as is consumer interest.

Trying to establish one’s business as a unique and consumer-conscious pizzeria is one of the most sound business decisions that can be made. When faced with price-cutting competition, or corporate franchise marketing budgets, a real key to economic victory is understanding what will encourage a consumer to a make a purchase.

Canadian pizza champion and Canadian Pizza Team coach Roberto Vergalito looked to gluten-free pizza dough to expand his menu and attract those consumers who previously couldn’t enjoy pizza due to a food allergy.

Other pizzaiolos found different ways to stand apart from the crowd. Canadian Pizza Magazine’s Pizza Chef of the Year, Diana Coutu, replaced a partial component of her water with Moosehead beer.

Marketing opportunities abound in this period of health-consciousness. From walnuts to flaxseed to omega-3 eggs, the potential to differentiate oneself from the “two large, two-topping, for $6.99” schemes has never been more prevalent in our industry. Take the time to learn where you can create that unique experience for your consumer.•

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