Why Pizza Hut Won the Pizza Wars Again

Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Papa Johns are industry leaders. If asked to name their favourite quick-service pizza chain, most Americans would choose one of the three (although Little Caesars and Marco's Pizza are catching up).

Recent sales reports show that Pizza Hut had a strong end to 2022 while Domino's and Papa Johns struggled.

Since Domino's and Papa Johns have surpassed the rival brand in the pizza wars in recent years, this is an impressive feat. After surpassing Pizza Hut in systemwide sales, Domino's overtook it in store count in 2021. 

 Pizza Hut had to close hundreds of locations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and saw its 2020 sales drop while Domino's and Papa John's saw impressive gains.

2022 changed this trend. Pizza Hut's international same-store sales rose 1% last year, while its U.S. sales fell 1%. The chain excelled in Q4 2022. U.S. same-store sales rose 4%, while system sales rose 5%.

Why this strong performance? In the latest earnings call, Yum! Brands CEO David Gibbs said that Pizza Hut's October launch of handheld Melts drove sales.

Pizza Hut Melts resemble folded pizzas. The chain's Thin N' Crispy crust holds cheese, toppings, and dipping sauce. Pizza Hut promoted it as a quick meal for solo diners and on-the-go customers.

As inflation and rising costs squeezed consumer wallets, the product's $6.99 price seemed to attract customers.

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