Pizza Hut’s recipe to win over younger diners’ hearts is simple: Team up with the local NCAA team and add beer.
The chain, which in May expanded beer delivery from about 100 stores in California and Arizona, plans to add the option at more locations this year. It’s part of an effort to appeal to younger customers, particularly Gen Z, along with its recent NCAA partnership.
“Here’s our opportunity to get re-engaged at a college level,” chief brand officer Marianne Radley said in an interview Thursday. “At the legal drinking age,” pizza and beer are a natural fit and testing has gone well, Radley said. “By kickoff of NFL we’ll have it in considerably more stores.”
Reviving Pizza Hut, owned by Yum! Brands, has become more of a focus for the company after it spun off its China business in 2016. Since then, Pizza Hut has improved delivery. In February, it took over the NFL sponsorship long held by Papa John’s International Inc.
The push to sell pepperoni and beer may give Pizza Hut a leg up on digital leader Domino’s Pizza as well as Papa John’s, which is facing negative publicity over its founder and former chairman’s recent racist comments.
In the meantime, Americans clearly are demanding more delivery options for their food and drinks — even McDonald’s is starting to offer the service now.
“It’s definitely an incredibly competitive category,” Radley said.
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