Canadian Pizza Magazine

marketing insights: Everything in moderation

Michelle Brisebois   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

I once heard a roommate of mine announce that she never dieted because
it caused her to think of nothing but food all of the time.

I once heard a roommate of mine announce that she never dieted because it caused her to think of nothing but food all of the time. Many people are coming to a similar conclusion because fad diets don’t work for long and quite frankly they’re about as much fun as a Spanish Inquisition. The latest fad diet may actually be no diet at all as weight control strategies now incorporate a little reality and even the odd treat. This is wonderful news for pizza because it can be a great tasting and healthy option. There is, however, just one public relations stumbling block. You see, when most people think of pizza, they think of it as junk food.

Will you marketing a healthier pizza in 2010?


Canadians are overweight. The young, the old and the middle aged; it’s an issue that’s impacting everyone. We’ve resorted to drastic measures to deal with our weight. A study by the Heart and Stroke Foundation found that 39 per cent of people have tried a diet that restricts or eliminates food groups such as carbohydrates, fats or proteins. Other popular dieting tools chosen by those polled include meal-replacement bars and shakes (31 per cent) weight-loss supplements or herbs (21 per cent) and fasting (21 per cent). The report also found that these extreme efforts are mostly in vain. Just 17 per cent of those who were overweight and eight per cent of those who were obese successfully lost at least five pounds and then kept it off for at least five years. The momentum for a more balanced approach is gaining strength.


Ironically, the charge for nutritional moderation is being lead by large food companies. They are being prompted to focus on introducing healthier products and to reformulate existing rogue brands by both consumer demands and some pretty high profile change agents. Michelle Obama has adopted childhood obesity as one of her key areas of focus. It dovetails beautifully with the politically charged health care reforms her husband has championed. Her lobbying of companies to curtail marketing of unhealthy products to children, to make products healthier, and labels simpler to read has resulted in some significant changes. PepsiCo, the world’s second-largest food and beverage company, promised to cease selling full-sugar soft drinks in schools by 2012 only one month after the First Lady started her campaign. Kraft Foods announced it would reduce the sodium content of its products even further as well. Ontario schools have implemented new food standards and those entrées (including pizzas) enjoying the most exposure will have less than 10 g fat, less than 5 g of saturated fat, less than 960 mg of sodium and more than 10 g of protein and 2 g of fibre. Including healthy fare on your menu isn’t simply addressing a niche market anymore; it’s a way to ensure your business remains viable. Keep the traditional pizza offerings but incorporate new menu items and innovative marketing strategies to support your new line.

If you don’t think that whole wheat crusts will be popular with your customer base because of taste, look at some of the white whole wheat crusts offered by value-added pizza crust manufacturers. Consider topping it with some low-sodium tomato sauce and a reduced-fat cheese blend. For extra nutritional value, load your pizza with plenty of vegetables, such as baby spinach, fresh tomatoes, red onion, sweet peppers, mushrooms and zucchini. For meat lovers, try using extra-lean ground beef, extra-lean ham, turkey bacon or crumbled turkey sausage instead of their higher fat counterparts. Perhaps you could glean inspiration from one of the first pizzas ever made. It had only three toppings – tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves to represent the colours of the Italian flag.

Once you’ve decided to begin marketing a healthier pizza, you need to find out where your customers are that looking for your product. Weight Watchers remains one of the most respected weight loss programs after almost half a century. They’ve enlisted singer/actress Jennifer Hudson as their spokesperson for a new contemporary marketing campaign. Weight Watchers actually has a pizza topping widget on their website that allows dieters to try on different toppings to see how they impact the number of points (members count points per day to lose weight) in the pizza. A thin crust cuts the total points almost in half from that of a deep dish pizza. Try to get hold of the information to let you calculate the points in your creation. Make coupons to offer a discount to members and to promote the fact that one delicious slice has “only X points”. Try to keep it to four or five points to be in the same range as other program-friendly entrées. You could easily employ the same strategy with other weight loss businesses or local health clubs.

Try to distance your healthy pizzas from the junk food category. You may wish to rebrand your healthy pizzas to ensure they exist in a different head space than those pizzas considered junk food. By calling them topped flatbreads you will give your pizzas a more upscale image. A small pizza with a very thin crust is a pizzetta, according to The best part of all is that by adding value instead of calories, you may just be able to command a higher selling price. And let’s face it, everybody loves a nice fat bottom line!

Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical, financial services and wine industries. She specializes in retail brand strategies.

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