Samantha Priestley has written online and in print on various subjects, including travel, fashion, music, relationships and lifestyle, and of course, food.
Pizza Express began in 1965 after the founder, Peter Boizot, visited Naples in Italy and had some kind of epiphany about opening a pizzeria back home in London. On his return to the UK, that’s exactly what he did. But that was some time ago now and though Pizza Express has always held its own against the competition from established restaurants like Pizza Hut, it is now outstripping them by far in terms of sales and popularity. So, what’s changed? Why and how has Pizza Express become the highest rated Italian concept restaurant in the UK?
Social Media Sells
If there’s one thing Pizza Express understand completely, it’s the importance of selling themselves on social media. Take a look at their Twitter page to see how they use enticing images, video, customer interaction, and clever hashtags. The fantastically popular hashtag #pizzaexpressmoments that started last autumn sees customers posting their in-restaurant birthdays, dates, girls’ nights out, and friends’ get-togethers, using the hashtag and creating a buzz around the brand. It’s a clever way of getting everyone in on the action and making them feel part of something. It also makes those who haven’t visited yet, want to.
The chain’s social media manager, Tim Love, cites the use of video as an area where a restaurant has an advantage over other businesses. “If you see our channels you’ll see there is an awful lot of video. You can make a pizza look incredibly attractive in six seconds.” In other words, we see appetising food being created and presented in front of us and we instantly want to eat it. Pizza Express have also been quick to utilise new forms of social media like Instagram where they really push the use of photos and video, and perhaps more importantly Snapchat where diners can get a more intimate picture of what goes on at the restaurant. By staying current and keeping themselves involved with the ever changing face of social media, Pizza Express keep ahead of the game
Go to the chiller aisle in any major supermarket today and you’ll find Pizza Express products along with all the other pizzas, sauces and fresh pastas. Not only is this a clever way for the restaurant chain to diversify and expand, it’s also fantastic use of branding. Pizza Express has now become more than just a pizza restaurant, it’s become a brand that we want in our lives. Put the Pizza Express range alongside others in the supermarket and you’ll instantly see which one says quality. We already know the restaurant, we’ve eaten there and we loved their food, so it follows we’re going to love cooking with their products and eating it at home. This also works the other way around, anyone who buys their products in store has the brand name in their head and is more likely to choose them when eating out. This cross-use of a brand is nothing new, but Pizza Express seem to have identified an area with a gap and have exploited it to the full. By keeping quality at the heart of what they do and branding themselves as a business that uses great products and delivers great food, Pizza Express have brought their name and brand into our homes, making us love them even more!
Pizza Express continue to grow and find new and innovative ways to appeal to more and more customers across different platforms and outlets. The secret to their success seems to be quite simple – they produce great food in a great environment, and they know how to sell it to us!