Are cheap deals gobbling up Pizza Express’ image?

Pizza Express’ latest ploy to drive at-home sales through money-off vouchers (MW 20 August) has secured it some column inches, but questions should be raised over the long-term impact of its extensive cost-cutting promotions.

Pizza Express
Fast food: Shifting customer base

The restaurant chain’s hugely popular voucher campaign has opened it up to a far wider demographic, maintaining sales at a time when diners are tightening their belts.

Our research shows that it is the ABC1s, not the C2DEs, who are making most use of money-off deals. Those with more disposable income have traditionally valued style over price, but in the face of such widespread cost-cutting, they have entered a new era of frugality.

The success of Domino’s Pizza in attracting the middle classes has been well publicised, but as customers veer towards previously “less acceptable” brands, what is the future for the likes of Pizza Express? We see a strong negative correlation between special offers and customer loyalty – as one increases, the other falls.

Pizza Express customers are now buying into the brand with the expectation of cheap deals. By choosing to focus on price, it is exacerbating a situation where it is unable to speak to the customer about anything else. Once the recession ends, the question on everyone’s mind will be: how does a once high-end brand regain its image and loyalty?

Emma Ayrey
TNS Retail & Shopper

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