Pie Five Pizza is a 40-unit fast casual pizza chain that focuses on innovation, quality and exploration. Learn from Vice President of Marketing Doug Kwong why they decided to add Impossible™ Tuscan Meatballs to the menu, how they rolled out the launch across their franchisee locations, and the shocking revelation that led them to replace their beef meatballs with Impossible™ meat made from plants.
IF: Why did you decide to launch the Impossible™ Tuscan Pizza?
DK: We knew we wanted to offer a pizza with plant-based protein because of the massive demand. Impossible Foods was the first brand we decided to work with because we wanted to differentiate ourselves from our competitors by providing premium and upscale offerings. Impossible meat is well known, has great brand power, and allowed us to offer a truly indulgent pizza for our customers.
How did you come up with the recipe?
We focused heavily on quality and innovation so we could create a delicious build that we knew would please customers who prefer classic flavors as well as culinary explorers. To do that, we worked with a culinary consultant who helped us formulate a craft, sophisticated pizza. The consultant infused a special flavor blend into the Impossible meat and the results were really outstanding, like night and day differences to the flavor and texture. The final product was so good that we actually decided to remove our beef meatballs from the menu altogether -- the Impossible Tuscan Meatballs tasted that much better!
The final product was so good that we decided to remove our beef meatballs from the menu altogether -- the Impossible Tuscan Meatballs tasted that much better!
How did you launch the Impossible Tuscan Pizza?
We saw how successful the Impossible™ Whopper® launch went and wanted to keep the momentum going at our restaurants. Initially we did a test run and gathered feedback from guests into how we could improve. Once we had the perfect build, we scaled to our other locations. That involved pitching the idea to our board and franchisees, and we had to educate them on why we wanted to use Impossible meat, how it could elevate the brand and what type of premium experience it could deliver.
Impossible Tuscan Pizza window cling
Did you get a lot of pushback?
Actually no -- our franchisees were really excited to bring in new products that could cater to customers looking for more nutritious and sustainable options. They also loved all of the support we received from the team at Impossible Foods. In addition, our head of marketing, operations, and training also did a really phenomenal job of rolling out training materials. We also had our team members sample the Impossible meatballs to get them excited for the product.
What was it like working with Impossible Foods?
They were phenomenal partners and a joy to work with. From launch insights to messaging best practices and social media campaigns, we felt supported from the get go. The team really knew the product and helped us understand that while the meat is plant-based, we shouldn’t position the product as just being vegan. That helped us attract more guests and generate more demand.
What types of digital campaigns did you run?
We highlighted the launch on all of our channels as well as Impossible Foods’ social channels to cross promote. We also engaged in a Twitter dialogue with Impossiblefoods(opens in a new tab) -- that was really fun and got a lot of visibility. Finally, we hosted a contest to get customers to tell us what they liked about the pizza and the post with the best photo got swag from Impossible Foods. Our audience loved that.
Anything else to add?
The product is phenomenal and we’re really excited to see how sales perform.