How Mass Adoption Happens

Pizza has been such a ubiquitous part of life that I always assumed it had been around since the beginning of time. Turns out, I was wrong. Domino’s never delivered a single pizza to a caveman. Unless you count my friend Jon.

Modern pizza was invented only a few hundred years ago in Naples, Italy, and mostly contained to that city until our grandparents generation took it to America. And our generation took it to the world. Now, $145 billion worth of pizza is eaten every year. It’s everywhere. How does that happen?

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).

We all get girlfriends when this moons.

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.

I heard @TPAIN is a fan, can anyone confirm?

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.

So you’re saying we fly the plane over the volcano and jump out with these hang gliders you made in your garage? I’m game.

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. Domino’s alone has 17,000 stores in more than 85 countries, with no intent to stop growing.

I just click pay and my iWallet takes care of all that.

Pizza is a culinary treasure. The French knew it, the peasants of Naples knew it, Queen Margarita knew it, the American WW2 soldiers knew it, and the pizza chain founders knew it. They cultivated mass adoption through marketing, endorsements, zealots, and convenience.

We’re holding an economic treasure in our hands. Let’s get it to the masses to empower and free those who need it most.



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