The Real Reason Pizza Hut Might Not Be Around Much Longer
100 Comments


A lot of people felt a certain sort of nostalgic
pang when Pizza Hut announced they would close around 500 stores, starting in 2019. What happened to this iconic pizza chain,
and do they have a chance of turning it around? This is the real reason Pizza Hut is disappearing
across the country. One of the biggest problems Pizza Hut faces
isn’t the pizza. It’s the hut. Pizza is as popular as ever, but dining habits
are changing, with more and more people opting for take-out or delivery as opposed to dining
out. That’s especially true when it comes to pizza,
which helps explain why, according to Restaurant Business, only about 10 percent of Pizza Hut’s
sales come from dine-in customers. Still, prior to the initial round of store
closings, more than half of Pizza Hut locations were still primarily dine-in ventures, meaning
they were paying waitstaff who didn’t have customers to wait on. In 2018, Pizza Hut CFO David Gibbs addressed
the problem on an earnings call, saying “The challenge Pizza Hut faces is that it
has a large dine-in business. The drag dine-in is having on reported same-store
sales masks the relative health of delivery and carryout. […] Dine-in is waning in relevance.” There is some good news, though. When Pizza Hut announced their intention to
close roughly 500 locations, Gibbs suggested that many of those were dine-in venues that
would be replaced by new express locations better suited to serving the nation’s current
need for pizza on the go. The Pizza Hut Express format is already out
there, with quick-serve counters in locations like the Miami International Airport. Pizza Hut Singapore describes the Pizza Hut
Express concept as “…a fast service counter concept specially
designed to serve the busy professionals, students and all who … are looking for a
filling meal while on the move.” Dozens have already opened across the UK as
well, and Big Hospitality says owner/operators report huge successes with them. Featuring a smaller menu than traditional
Pizza Huts, including personal sized pizzas, these Express franchises fit in locations
such as stadiums and service stations where a full-sized Pizza Hut wouldn’t, and they’re
designed to be able to have an order out in between 90 and 120 seconds. Hey, when it comes to envisioning the future
of pizza, the company has had worse ideas. “Hydrate level 4 please!” “Here you go.” “Oh boy, oh boy, mom, you sure can hydrate
a pizza.” Every chain has a distinct identity, something
you think of when you hear the mention of a name or see a sign as you’re driving along. When you think of Burger King, you think of
the Whopper and that creepy mascot, right? McDonald’s? French fries and Ronald McDonald. Subway? Eat fresh. Little Caesars? Pizza, pizza! And Pizza Hut? …Pizza Hut? “Bueller? Bueller?” According Greg Creed, CEO of Pizza Hut parent
company Yum!, one of the things they’re lacking is a strong brand identity. Any chain needs to cultivate an image, a reason
for people to remember they’re an option and to encourage them to stop by. But Creed says Pizza Hut’s message, quote,
“was not distinctive enough to attract new customers.” And that’s a huge problem — especially when
its competitors are doing a much better job defining the pizza market. Over the past few years, Domino’s has risen
to the top of the American pizza business at the same time that Pizza Hut has been in
serious decline. In 2018, CNN took a look at just how Domino’s
had risen to the top of the pile of national pizza chains, and they said they did it with
a combination of creative marketing, tech innovations, and an overhaul to their menu
and recipes. But their price point was also a big deal,
and they said that since Domino’s is more affordable than competitors — especially
Pizza Hut — customers on a budget are choosing Domino’s. And that’s just about everyone who orders
pizza, the nation’s number one budget-friendly dinner option. Many budget-conscious families aren’t just
looking for great pizza, they’re looking for a great deal, which has led competitors like
Domino’s to offer discounts and special offers. Yum! CEO Gred Creed admits that Pizza Hut has fallen
behind. “We have to do a better job communicating
better value.” In 2016, CNBC pointed out how important the
millennial market was to the pizza industry. Between 2015 and 2016, their share of the
pizza market rose from $38.5 billion to $45 billion, and that meant they were a huge part
of the industry’s revenue stream. So, you’d think that Pizza Hut would spend
a lot of time and effort focusing on catering to the millennial market and offering things
like high-quality ingredients, a lot of choices, and fast service. They tried — and failed epically. In 2014, Pizza Hut launched their “Flavor
of Now” campaign, completely overhauling their menu in an attempt to grab the millennial
market. Aided by New York food truck operators, the
new offerings included things like Ginger Boom Boom crusts and balsamic drizzles. The result was catastrophic, with quarterly
sales actually dropping by 3.5 percent. The Motley Fool suggests that the failed rebrand
might have done some lasting damage, sending a mixed message and making customers unsure
of just what Pizza Hut was trying to be and what patrons should expect when they got there. Are they a gourmet pizza place? A family pizza place? A place to call for takeout and delivery? Meanwhile, Domino’s went straight at the millennial
market with things like an advertising campaign that made fun of their own pizza and promised
to do better, a super user-friendly app, and a pizza tracker. In other words, things that actually appealed
to millennials. But it’s not just millennials who are choosing
other options over Pizza Hut. The next generation is too. Everyone loves pizza, but who really, really
loves pizza and eats of ton of it? Students. Unfortunately for Pizza Hut, they’re not even
on the radar when it comes to the student demographic. According to MarketWatch, part of Pizza Hut’s
problem is that students are preferring to get their pizza from Papa John’s and Domino’s,
and market analysts say Pizza Hut’s recent efforts to wade deeper into the technological
world is only addressing part of the problem. Experts from GlobalData say it’s not just
about technology like order-placing apps, it’s also about image and brand perception
and price points — and they’re just not appealing to the student demographic the way
they should be if they want to become relevant. Pizza Hut parent company Yum! Brands is making strong headway with their
other chains. Same-store sales at Taco Bell and KFC were
on the rise, but Pizza Hut “still falls a bit short.” The good news is that Pizza Hut knows there’s
a problem, and says they’re willing to make the commitment to fix things — including
making sure they appeal to new customer demographics with updated technology. Now, for older pizza lovers, this emphasis
on technology may seem weird. You probably hear apps, trackers, drones,
robots, and think… “What the f— does that have to do with pizza?” “I dunno.” But it goes back to the initial problem for
Pizza Hut: younger generations are eating in instead of dining out, so it’s all about
the ease of the experience. And so far, it’s just a lot easier for them
to get their pizza somewhere else. It should be noted that Pizza Hut promised
way back in 2015 to catch up and even surpass the competition with new digital and technological
innovations, but so far it isn’t happening. And while Pizza Hut has been busy trying to
correct their menu mistakes, Domino’s has been testing driverless delivery vehicles. When it comes to new technology, if you aren’t
getting ahead, you’re falling behind — and the further behind Pizza Hut gets, the harder
it’s going to be for them to catch up. When Pizza Hut gave themselves that major
overhaul in 2014, they made more than one mistake. Turning off their new target audience, millennials,
was the first. But on the flip side, they also alienated
many of their longtime fans. According to Business Insider, the overhaul
scared off some of those that were already heading to Pizza Hut, saying the menu overhaul
was particularly alienating to long-time customers and families. “Why don’t you try the buffalo sauce.” “No.” “How about premium crushed tomato?” “One sauce!” “Actually, there’s six.” “Marinara!” Instead of seeing sales skyrocket from new
fans, Pizza Hut suddenly found themselves needing to win back their loyal customer base. By 2015, The Drum was reporting that they
were reevaluating their market strategy to focus on all parts of the market, not just
a singular demographic. Yum! Brands CEO Greg Creed told investors, “Unfortunately, we haven’t been as effective
as we’ve liked with our marketing and need to balance its appeal to millennials with
mainstream pizza customers. We intend to do this going forward.” Now they just need to follow through. As we’ve seen, most of Pizza Hut’s issues
have been self-inflicted. Well, add their delivery drivers to that list,
because lawsuits have cost the chain millions of dollars just in the last few years alone. In 2016, Pizza Hut agreed to pay out a $3.1
million settlement to drivers in Florida who had sued the chain for consistent underpayment. Then, in 2017, Pizza Hut settled a lawsuit
brought after a 2009 accident where one of their delivery drivers hit and seriously injured
a motorcyclist, who spent months in the hospital. The cost was $9 million. And the bad news continued in 2018, when a
Pizza Hut franchisee in Wisconsin who owned 72 Pizza Hut locations agreed to pay out $2
million to drivers who had claimed they weren’t being properly reimbursed for things like
gas and maintenance on their vehicles. Delivery might be the way of Pizza Hut’s future,
but it’s clear they still have a lot of serious issues to work out first. “At Pizza Hut we get asked, do you deliver? Yeah. We deliver.” Quick, picture the inside of a Pizza Hut. You’re picturing those red-and-white table
cloths, a Pac-Man table, and a few arcade machines, aren’t you? That was the Pizza Hut of both the 1980s and
1990s, and it’s entirely possible that your old mental picture of Pizza Hut is a problem
that could be turned into a solution. Pizza Hut has spent years running away from
their musty old image, rolling out new store designs, new delivery options, and more. But in 2018, Pizza Hut exec Artie Starrs told
investors that the chain had done a poor job of informing customers about all of these
changes. Despite all the updates, most people still
had that same old image of Pizza Hut burned into their minds. In 2019, though, Pizza Hut decided on a new
strategy: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. The idea: if people thought Pizza Hut was
stuck in the past, why not play that up and appeal to nostalgia? The result: Pizza Hut reverted back to some
of the old imagery and logos they used in the marketing campaigns that ran from 1967
to 1999. A huge part of that is the red roof and the
shape of their building. If you happen to drive past a place that was
built as a Pizza Hut and then repurposed into something else, you still know it was once
Pizza Hut, don’t you? That’s powerful stuff, and Salon says they’re
hoping to capitalize on nostalgia to get adults who once ate there as children back with their
own children. Hey, at this point, anything’s worth a try,
right? Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
pizza joints are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
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100 thoughts on “The Real Reason Pizza Hut Might Not Be Around Much Longer

  1. This restaurant NEEDS to be put out of business. The quality of the Pizza has deteriorated for decades. The individuals that are hired are not properly trained and have clearly and poorly deviated from the recipe. They don't care. It is about getting the money. Why does anyone continue to eat horrible food advertised as pizza?

  2. I’ll tell you why I don’t mess with Pizza Hut anymore. Because when I was in Asia my dr told me to avoid American wheat like the plague. That shit is saturated with cancer causing RoundUp before they harvest it. That’s the real reason we are seeing all of these “wheat allergies”

  3. Who remembers the good old days when Pizza Hut had pan pizzas with that delicious cheese that was burnt and crispy all along the perimeter where the crust met the pan? It was so much better back then. 😔

  4. I get dominos because it’s cheaper and delivers and is open until 12. Works good for me because I’m usually off by 11. I love Pizza Hut for the stuff crust, but I only get it when i have money for it. 20$ for a large pepperoni with stuff crust? No thanks

  5. I agree with people that Pizza Hut was way better back in the 80's and early 90's, and dining in there was a fun experience as a kid. But I also want to mention that I went to China recently, and they love Pizza Hut, but it's different though. It's still dine in, but it's modern and kind of upscale. Like I went several times, and got a steak one time; my wife got a fancy salad. It was good.

  6. Another pathetic post by mushed. Really…Pizza Hut won't be around much longer? What complete crap. Best of the big 4 pizza chains with the best quality pizza…period. Many regional chains that are much better, like Jet's etc.

  7. Don't know why I even tried it but it sounded good. I got a Pizone from Pizza hut and got the worst food poisoning in my life. They didn't cook it right or something. After that never again.

    Besides dominos tastes better with a better price and better customer service

  8. Even here in the Philippines they are struggling, I personally like other brands here specially Shakey's Pizza because of their thin crust Pizza. They are much more tastier than Pizza Huts… 👍🏻👋🏻🇵🇭

  9. Pizza Hut is restructuring they are not going out of business at all just changing ! We have 2 in my town the old big one you can eat at and a new smaller one for fast take out

  10. I have stopped eating at Pizza hut years ago. I have stopped eating at Papa John's Pizza about a decade ago. Both of there pizzas sucks. Pizza hut use to be great in the 70's and early 80's but not anymore. I do not like Domino's Pizza neither…

  11. For lunch me and several coworkers would go for lunch to Pizza Hut because cost wise it wasn't bad, especially since it was an all you can eat buffet. The problem was that they were slow getting pizzas to the buffet table. They also served pasta dishes at the buffet, but the quality was low there. We quit going. Eventually they closed that location which was its own stand-alone building and opened into a small strip mall further into town that seems unappealing. It's currently getting bad online reviews telling about unsanitary conditions and poor service. Seeing this unfold is like watching a slow train wreck.

  12. Saying it’s good to close the ones that serve inside for delivery ones, but I think the pizzas when delivered taste really bad but when you actually go there I think there fantastic

  13. Let's update that tired Pizza Hut logo. And kick out that yellow! I also want the old pizza taste back and a bit lower prices. $7.99 is a good price! I LOVE that!

  14. Paid $16 for a Pepperoni Lover's yesterday, get more toppings on a $5 Little Caesars anytime! That's the big problem! If you charge three times as much for a pizza load the thing!

  15. Pizza Hut was always garbage imo. It really seems like you cant find a good pizza anymore from the brand names, or the ones by me all just use lower quality ingredients. I was real disappointed when the quality from the Papa Johns I would order from tanked. Papa Murphys is really the best option if you want quality every time.

  16. Not every Pizza Hut is the same.. some are way better than others, sadly. It all depends on the crew that’s working. If they don’t care and just make your order like crap then it’s crap you know? But if you have a crew that cares and wants to make your order the best it can possibly be, you’ll be more than satisfied.

  17. Brand image, updated tech. I don’t care about any of this and I’m a 26 year old. Give me Pizza Hut over undercooked Papa Johns and salty Dominos.

    Pizza Hut all day.

  18. In my opinion the only good thing about pizza hut is that cheesy crust gimmick. Once someone successfully copies that. R.i.p pizza hut.

  19. Growing up with Pizza Hut (and not knowing much about food) I used to think Pizza Hut was the highest quality Pizza. I haven't ordered a pizza in years but their stuffed crust was legendary. Surprised to hear about the decline tbh

  20. dude, pizza hut is trying too hard to impress the millennials. how about you just focus on the quality of the food? i think that would be more important than weird food gimmicks and drones that deliver pizzas.

  21. OMFG! What a surprise. College students, who are by definition cost conscious, prefer the cheaper, and lower quality, Papa John's pizza to Pizza Hut. Jeebus H. Christ! Next you'll be telling me water is wet.

  22. I eat Pizza Hut all the time, it's a decent quality consistently good pizza. But perhaps I just order from a very well run location. Now, I understand it's not a perfect New York or Neopolitan pie, but it doesn't need to be

  23. I don't think Pizza Hut is going anywhere anytime soon. However, it's quite possible in the future that most of their restaurants may be carryout instead of dine in. My personal favorite from them is their stuffed crust pizza. I also like their cheesy crust and their cheesy bites pizza. Because I live with my dad, I always order one of these with pepperoni, pepperoni and sausage or cheese. I would like to try chicken and sausage pizza but dad is very traditional when it comes to pizza. LOL

  24. I just ordered a pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut, they sent me a pizza with literally no pepperoni. I called the store and the manager told me it’s hidden under the cheese. I truly believe not everyone should be able to sell pizza.

  25. Pizza hut used to be AMAZING I do not know who bought the company and messed it up . The regular pizzas are worse than Little Cesar's . Little Cesar's is amazing compared to Hut

  26. Pizza hut is stuck in the 90s. Their pizza is fucking gross and greasy, management is garbage. At least Dominos stepped their shit up and revamped their menu and has so so store level management.

  27. dominos pizza is terrible. it used to be good a long time ago before they changed it. pizza hut pizza is way better than dominos. i think marco's is the best right now though.

  28. Well, I do like Pizza Hut Express at Target. The only thing that pisses me off is when those Express locations don't have anything ready to go. If I have to wait for you to cook my personal pizza or bread sticks, then it isn't express.

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