Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar’s, Papa John’s…and Marco’s Pizza.

While not as widely known as some of America’s pizza heavyweights, Marco’s Pizza is one of the country’s fastest growing pizza brands.

Currently, Marco’s Pizza ranks 5th in annual sales among U.S. pizza chains. The quick-service restaurant (QSR) is on-track to reach $1 billion in annual sales this year.

Want to read more about emerging QSR industry trends? Check out our QSR & Fast Casual: An Industry Snapshot report for insights and brand rankings.

A multi-pronged growth strategy

Marco’s Pizza aims to become the number four pizza brand by systemwide sales. To achieve this, Marco’s has a comprehensive plan of franchise expansion, nationwide marketing, and investment in technology and innovation.

Marco’s is building off several years of positive momentum. In 2019, Marco’s Pizza was named the Most Trusted Pizza Brand according to the Harris Poll’s yearly EquiTrend® Study.

Expansion

Presently, Marco’s Pizza boasts 1,100 franchise locations across 33 states, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. With their rapid expansion plan, they expect to have 1,500 locations by 2023, and 2,000 by 2026.

With nearly 1,000 new locations opening in the next four years, Marco’s executive team is looking to decrease the amount of time it takes to launch a new franchise location from eight months to two. Marco’s also hopes to quickly expand by incentivizing their existing franchisees to operate multiple locations. 

Marketing

Americans spend approximately $46 billion each year on pizza, and this number is expected to rise to $50.7 billion by 2023.

A stable and growing industry, Marco’s is hungry to gobble a larger slice of the (pizza) pie with multi-channel national advertising. The QSR’s national campaigns help consumers gain awareness of the growing brand, and give Marco’s an opportunity to share the chain’s value proposition.

Technology and innovation

Marco’s Pizza is staying ahead of the innovation curve, spending millions to rethink the way we produce and distribute pizza. The chain has experimented with third-party delivery partners, ghost kitchens, new operational equipment, AI-powered phone ordering systems, drone delivery, and kitchen automation. Robotic dough rollers reduce their need for labor by 80%. 

Examining Marco’s brand equity data

Marco’s growth is also evident in QuestBrand data. From Q1 to Q2, Marco’s Pizza was one of the top five QSR growth brands by brand equity. This reflects that US adults saw an increase in the brand’s value from the beginning of the year. 

Brand equity is an average of four consumer measures: brand familiarity, perceived quality, purchase consideration, and brand momentum.

Marco's greatest increase is seen in their familiarity score (+2.6) reflecting that more Americans knew about the QSR brand in Q2 than they did in Q1 of this year. This uptick in familiarity makes sense due to the brand's rapid expansion throughout U.S. markets and on-going national marketing campaigns. 

Year-over-year changes to the sales conversion funnel

Marco's year-over-year brand growth is evident when we compare their sales conversion funnel from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022. Marco's Pizza experienced growth across all five phases of the sales conversion funnel: awareness (+1.8), familiarity (+2.9), trial (+2.3), usage (+2.3), and recommend (+1.6). These increases illustrate U.S. adults' growing knowledge of the Marco's Pizza brand and willingness to purchase from the QSR.

Sales Conversion Funnel Q1 2021 vs Q1 2022

Marcos Conversion Funnel

QuestBrand. 1/1/2021 - 3/31/2021. n=866. 1/1/2022 - 3/31/2022. n=927.

While this brand's future remains unknown, Marco's trajectory makes us cautiously optimistic that this accelerating pizza brand could win the title of 4th largest pizza brand in the country.

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Catherine Ake

Content Strategist

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