Scott Erickson, SVP, Marketing at Picnic
Working with pizza every day, I learned quickly that the only consensus in pizza making is that there is absolutely no consensus on favorite toppings. Pepperoni—highly loved by many but reviled by others. Pineapple—hated by most but a vocal minority of true supporters. At Picnic, part of my role is to figure out what customers need and want. But I wanted to get at something deeper than just the ingredients: what do people really care about when ordering pizza?
In January 2022, we polled 1000 U.S. adults and asked all kinds of questions about pizza, automation, robotics in kitchens, and their unique preferences. We tapped leading business and hospitality researchers Dina Marie Zemke, PhD from the Department of Applied Business Studies at Ball State University and Carola Raab, PhD from the Department of Food and Beverage, Meetings, and Event Management at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Working with Drs. Zemke and Raab, we built upon their previous kitchen robotics research to formulate the poll and dig into what Americans really think about pizza and food automation.
We’ve got a lot of information about toppings (more on this in an upcoming post, I promise) but what struck me was that the overwhelming desired ingredient—consistent quality.
Pizza represents a meal that’s equally comfort food, a good value for money, and a sharable experience with friends and family. And despite our preferences for style of crust or types of veggies, Americans told us that consistent quality was the most important attribute they care about when ordering pizza. We saw this from women, men, people who frequently dine in, those who prefer take-out, and even those who call for delivery. In fact, the results were so universally consistent across the top eight attributes, we only saw some variation in importance of price for people who frequently dine in.
At Picnic, we make automation that helps kitchens succeed. We look for solutions that address real needs with real outcomes. Pizza making is messy, it wastes a lot of ingredients, and requires speed that doesn’t always lead to precision. By creating the Picnic Pizza Station, we can get far better portioning and placement of ingredients than traditional pizza making.
Does your large call for 42 slices of pepperoni? The station makes it so. Six ounces of sauce and not a drop more? No problem. With less than 2% food waste and robotic precision, the Picnic station can deliver up to 100 precise pizzas per hour with just one operator.
With robotic automation in America’s pizza kitchens, we can help guarantee the consistency necessary for the delight of guests everywhere. And the good news? 82% of Americans agree that robotic technology will help provide consistent and accurate pizza orders.
When we couple that finding with the fact that the least important factor in ordering pizza was “being prepared by people,” we have a recipe for kitchen automation success. Are people ready for kitchen robots? I can say that our research shows that yes, they are, overwhelmingly ready.