Let's face facts: The pizza category is a sea of sameness, populated with major players spending tens of millions of dollars, year after year, screaming limited-time offers, discounts and promotions.
Amid this backdrop, Toppers Pizza, a regional chain founded in 1991 in Champaign, Illinois, had found initial success through unique products, bold messaging and a focus on the college market.
But as often happens with growth, there was a loss of focus. A change in their franchise expansion strategy led to a corresponding migration from “irreverent fun” to “suburban safe.” The inevitable result of this “all-things-to-all-people” approach? A loss of momentum — and the first-ever decrease in same-store sales and order counts.
Our comprehensive business, brand and marketing audit revealed the obvious: A lack of focus. Toppers' evolution to “me, too” marketing — bland, functional and product-focused — was at the heart of the problem.
A renewed focus on the college “Life Junkie” target audience. A radical reposition focused on owning “Irreverence” in a relevant, contemporary manner. And a bold, comprehensive brand makeover — reinvigorating every point-of-contact between consumers and the brand — to own the college market once again.
Just six months after the campaign, same-store sales went from red to black with a total increase of 13%; likewise, same-store order counts increased 14% in the same reporting period. All of this on a 1% communications budget increase — and amid a category that was down 5% overall.