Gluten free foods are a huge trend right now. So understandably, restaurants and food brands are trying to capitalize in any way possible. The latest major chain to do so, Papa John’s (NASDAQ:PZZA), might want to rethink its strategy though.
The popular pizza chain recently introduced a gluten free pizza. And while the actual ingredients are gluten free, and the crust is made in a separate facility, there’s a danger the pizza could come into contact with gluten in the chain’s restaurants. So Papa John’s has actually advised people with celiac disease to steer clear.
Of course, not everyone who orders gluten free foods has a gluten intolerance or other food allergy. So it’s possible that Papa John’s gluten free pizza product could simply appeal to health conscious or trendy consumers. But in general the company’s need to walk back its gluten free claims isn’t great for the brand.
There’s a fine line between capitalizing on a trend in an authentic way and simply using a buzzword to make a few quick sales. Creating a gluten free pizza gluten intolerant people can’t actually eat may come off as self-serving and even dishonest.
Even those who aren’t gluten intolerant but buy gluten free products may see the company’s marketing message as manipulative. And these customers too could refuse to buy the product and develop a negative impression of the Papa John’s brand. So in the end, the company might have been better off never making gluten free claims in the first place.
Papa John’s Photo via Shutterstock