Wings: A fan favorite beyond March Madness, says Technomic

April 18, 2012

Chicago, March 14, 2012, PRNewswire – Even if your favorite college basketball team falls out of contention, the March tourneys still provide an excellent excuse to gather around a platter of your favorite chicken wings. But the excuses don’t end with March. Wings have remained a year-round favorite, exhibiting substantial innovation and room for growth according to recent research from restaurant consultants Technomic. 

“Wings and sports have long been a winning combination—and more than 10 percent of all wing-based limited-time offers are game-day promotions,” says Technomic Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. “However, wings’ overall appeal comes from their ability to suit consumers’ desire for customization, including traditional and global flavor options from sweet to super hot, and for portion flexibility, serving as snacks, starters, entrées and sides. And they are fun finger foods that are easy to share, so they lend a social aspect.”

In its new Category Close-Up: Wings report, Technomic delves into its MenuMonitor online menu-tracking resource and finds that 36 percent of the Top 500 restaurant chains offer wings, and that number has grown year after year.

Of particular note is the extent to which restaurants have innovated in the wing category:

  • Wing flavors and sauces found on menus range from Buffalo and barbecue to the tequila-lime-barbecue at Quaker Steak & Lube and the Raspberry Ice—a sweet and tangy blend of raspberry and horseradish—at Hurricane Grill &Wings.
  • Buffalo/hot sauces are the most commonly menued wing sauces. Among these types, the less-spicy mild and medium sauces have declined as Buffalo and “extra-hot” varieties have grown. 
  • Wing concepts offer an average of 18 different sauces. Hurricane Grill lists more than 30, as does Wild Wing Café. Variety is also found at chains not focused on wings—Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and Cheeseburger in Paradise, for example, each offer 12 options.
  • Sweet-style barbecue sauces are more popular than spicy-style barbecue sauces, though preferences vary heavily by region. Consumer preference for sweet sauces indicates opportunity for flavors such as sweet and sour, honey-chipotle and maple-brown sugar.
  • Fully 28 percent of wing-focused limited-time offers promote new wing flavors, offering operators a compelling method to drive sales while testing new wing varieties.
  • Boneless wings are on the rise. And, interestingly, as restaurants have added them, the incidence of traditional wings has not decreased. Operators have found boneless wings appeal to a new consumer—one who does not enjoy the finger-licking aspect of traditional wings.

Chicken wings are among the most popular menu items, but also one of the most difficult to classify and analyze. Technomic’s Category Close-Up: Wings provides restaurants and industry suppliers with a thorough review of wing menu trends, pricing, sizing, sauces, accompaniments and limited-time offers, in addition to consumer perceptions of the leading wing chains and other related consumer research.  

To learn more about this report, please visit or contact one of the individuals listed below.


Press Inquiries: Darren Tristano, 312-506-3850, or

Purchasing Details: Heather Nelson, 312-506-3855, or

About Technomic

Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include numerous publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry.

Source: Technomic, Inc.

Pizza chains feed into March Madness

April 11, 2012


Although it’s not quite up to Super Bowl level, March Madness provides a boon for pizza businesses as well, and plenty of chains have geared promotional campaigns toward NCAA college basketball fans …

Tags: Domino’s Pizza, Food & Beverage, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Online / Mobile / Social, Operations Management, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Pizza Toppings, Trends / Statistics

1331912880 – Alicia Kelso

Although it’s not quite up to Super Bowl level, March Madness provides a boon for pizza businesses as well, and plenty of chains have geared promotional campaigns toward NCAA college basketball fans.

The timing of the tournament is ideal, as restaurants across all segments take advantage of increased spending this month from holiday gift cards being honored, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at market research firm Technomic.

“Many chains are using LTO’s in March to launch springtime menus, seasonal offerings and especially items to entice consumers who are looking for a venue for March Madness,” he said.

According to CSMonitor, during the college basketball tournament – which spans about two and a half weeks – Americans consume 52 million slices of pizza, which equates to more than 100 acres of pizza a day. Here is what some pizza brands are doing to cater to bracket junkies.

March Madness deals

Domino’s Pizza, the Official Pizza of the NCAA, kicked off its March Madness promotion earlier this week before the first tip-off. The Road to Domination is now featured on the chain’s Facebook page, where fans can play for the chance to win more than 200,000 prizes, including new Parmesan Bread Bites and Pepsi products.

The grand prize is a trip for two to the 2013 NCAA Men’s Final Four.

To play, fans simply enter their picks for each round of the tournament. Each correct pick could net a prize. Fans can make as many picks as they want, and also can invite their social media friends through the Road to Domination app.

The NCAA tournament is big enough for Papa John’s to introduce a brand new pizza in time for the occasion. The Buffalo Chicken Pizza was unveiled earlier this week and features a combination of creamy ranch sauce, all-white sliced chicken strips, crispy bacon, fresh-sliced onions and 100-percent real cheese made from mozzarella, all topped with a spicy buffalo sauce.

A large version is now available for $10 at Papa John’s restaurants nationwide and online. It will be available through the end of April.

“America told us that they wanted Buffalo Chicken and that bacon was a favorite. We’ve combined the two and delivered an exciting new pizza just in time for basketball tournament season. We think that this is a pizza all fans will agree upon,” said Andrew Varga, chief marketing officer for Papa John’s International Inc.

Also, Papa John’s offered a March Madness promotion this week for its loyalty members, which included any large specialty pizza at regular menu price and a second medium one-topping pizza for 64 cents, in recognition of the 64-team tournament.

Although it hasn’t happened yet, Little Caesars will offer families a free order of Crazy Bread at participating restaurants on March 19 if any 16-seeded team beats a 1-seeded team in the tournament.

Little Caesars isn’t the only major pizza chain betting on a Cinderella upset in the early rounds of The Big Dance. Pizza Hut also has committed to a pizza giveaway if a No. 16 seed outlasts a No. 1 seed.

Such a first round upset has never happened in the history of the tournament.

Additionally, the Pizza Hut 10 Seed Bandwagon will support the No. 10 seeded schools in honor of the new $10 Dinner Box by hosting parties for their fans. Pizza Hut “adopted” the four No. 10 seeds – Purdue, West Virginia, Virginia and Xavier – and the chain’s 10 Seed Bandwagon will descend on each school’s campus to feed each school’s fans. $10 Dinner Box pre-game parties also will be hosted in the cities where the teams are playing.

“We are again cheering for the underdogs in this year’s tournament rooting for the ultimate upset and with the launch of our new $10 Dinner Box we are backing the No. 10 seeds to go all the way,” said Kurt Kane, chief marketing officer at Pizza Hut.

Flippin’ Pizza recently opened up its third annual “Create-A-Pie” March Madness, inviting fans to create their own pie for prizes. Submissions earned three points for recipe submissions, and one point for every “like,” “share” or “comment” on the brand’s Facebook page.

In conjunction with the NCAA March Madness, the 16 pies with the most points will make-up the Savory Sixteen, as well as determine their seed. The winning pie will be featured in all Flippin’ Pizza stores, nationwide, during the month of April.

Snappy Tomato Pizza is holding a tournament-themed promotion, “Snappy’s Fiery Four,” that offers guests a free 5 oz. bottle of Frank’s RedHot Sauce if they order the 20 Hot Wings or 1 lb. of Boneless Wings; a new Buffalo chicken hoagie; a large Buffalo chicken pizza; or a large spicy chicken ranch pizza.

Tony C’s Coal Fired Pizza is likening itself to the tournament’s underdogs with its new Pizza Madness promotion on Facebook. Every user who likes the brand on Facebook will receive a 12-inch, two topping coal-fired pizza of their choice, valued at $12, when they redeem it at Tony C’s in Bee Cave, Texas, outside of Austin.

The purpose of the promotion is to get people to compare Tony C’s pizza to national chains.

“We want to educate our guests about the difference between coal-fired pizza and the pizza offered by national chains and other Italian restaurants in the neighborhood,” said Tony Ciola, owner of Tony C’s Coal Fired Pizza. “Just like the Cinderella teams who have made history during March Madness, we are confident that our little gourmet pizza restaurant in Austin will win guests over to love coal-fired pizza versus what’s offered by others.”

Other brands – such as Hungry Howie’s, Hunt Brothers and Donatos – have facilitated March Madness –themed conversations on their Facebook pages to generate consumer engagement.

Donatos even went so far as to offer “bracketology” tips for its fans, including:

  • Don’t pick a No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed;
  • Pick at least one No. 12 seed over a No. 5 seed;
  • Don’t base your picks on mascots (tried that…didn’t work)
    • Don’t go overboard on upsets;
  • Don’t write off schools that you haven’t heard of
  • Pizza is the time-tested best food to eat when picking
    your brackets

St. Patrick’s Day

Some pizza operators went even further with their creative efforts this month, offering St. Patrick’s Day specials such as green beer and clover-shaped pies.

A shop in Birmingham, Ala., called Slice Pizza & Brew, has introduced a new specialty pizza called Pot Luck of the Irish, topped with corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and poached eggs.

Connie’s Pizza has a special St. Patrick’s Day menu, complete with St. Patty’s Wings tossed in a spicy green sauce, and green beer.

Some Mellow Mushroom locations are featuring $3 green beer pints for the Irish-themed holiday.

Oakdale, Minn.-based Randy’s Premier Pizza offers a Clover Leaf pizza for St. Patrick’s Day. The pizzas are made thin crust, pan, Chicago-style deep dish or Chicago stuffed. They’re available year round.

Read more about marketing and promotions.

Read original article here.

How ’bout them apples?

November 15, 2011

How ’bout them apples?

Parents who can’t get their kids to eat anything except fast food may be a little happier when they scream for the Golden Arches.

McDonald’s is rolling out a new Happy Meal that automatically includes apple slices — without caramel sauce — and downsized French fries along with the choice of Chicken McNuggets, a hamburger or cheeseburger.

The new Happy Meal hits New England on Friday under the chain’s initiative to help families make more nutrition-minded choices.

The changes are a “small step,” according to professor Marion Nestle of New York University’s department of nutrition, food studies and public health.

“Now if they would just make milk or juice the default instead of soda,” she said. McDonald’s instead will offer fat-free chocolate milk or 1 percent milk as “promoted options” with Happy Meals.

The new default Happy Meal has reduced calories, fat and sodium. The smaller, 1.1-ounce fries have less than half the calories, fat and sodium of the current 2.5-ounce fries included with the meals. And the elimination of the caramel cuts out 70 calories, 0.5 fat grams and 35 milligrams of salt.

“By offering the apple slices and smaller fries, we’re providing more balanced options for children and parents to feed their children,” said Nicole DiNoia, McDonald’s Boston-area spokeswoman. “Sometimes parents have trouble saying ‘no’ when it comes to French fries, and it’s troublesome to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables.”

The question is, will kids bite? Apple “dippers” with caramel sauce have been an optional Happy Meal replacement for fries since 2004, but McDonald’s says they were ordered only 11 percent of the time.

A recent report by Chicago restaurant consultancy Technomic found 70 percent of moms order off kids’ menus because their kids “want it,” while only 13 percent said “healthy options” were the reason.

“You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink,” said Darren Tristano, Technomic executive vice president. “It’s an obligation of the parents to have the child eating something healthier as well as the child to eat it.”

View the full article on Boston Herald