How Mass Adoption Happens

1. Market tomatoes as an aphrodisiac

Initially, tomatoes had a FUD problem. We think of tomatoes as Italian, but they’re actually native to South America. Columbus and other explorers brought them to Europe in the mid-1500s, followed by a few hundred years of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The red color was scary. No one would dare touch one. That is, until the French marketed it as “pomme d’amour” (love apple).

2. Celebrity endorsement

In the 1800s, the peasants of Naples Italy discovered pizza was an incredibly cheap food to make. Grow tomatoes from seed, scoop some anchovies from the sea, and put it all on dough and bake it near a fire. Everyone knew it was peasant food. But in 1889, the king and queen of Italy visited on a tour of their kingdom. They called for the best chef in Naples to make them the local specialty, and he put together a pizza with the colors of the Italian flag. Queen Margarita gave two thumbs up and the “margarita” pizza was born.

3. Create Zealots

In the 1920’s, pizza bakeries appeared in a handful of Italian immigrant neighborhoods. Americans had access to the food, but that didn’t spur the growth. It wasn’t until the zealots got a taste for pizza. During WW2 in the 1940s, American soldiers stationed in Italy grew to love the local cuisine. When they returned home, there was no stopping their Italian food cravings. Pizzerias spread all across America.

4. Make it Easy

The major pizza chains Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa Johns didn’t push pizza into mass adoption status because they had the best tasting pies. Rather, they crossed the chasm by making it super easy for customers. They removed barriers. They lowered costs. They normalized home delivery. Order with a mobile app and food is dropped at your doorstep in the time it takes to put on pants. Touch a button, then eat pizza. Explains how Domino’s alone has 17,000 stores in more than 85 countries, with no intent to stop growing.

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