How Brands Earn Gen Z’s Trust: Little Caesars

Brands looking to earn Gen Z’s trust can emulate tactics utilized by Little Caesars, like keeping an open dialogue and delivering on the cohort’s expectations for experimentation and value, writes food & beverage analyst Emily Moquin
Little Caesars: Most Trusted Brands 2023
Morning Consult artwork by Sara Wickersham
May 30, 2023 at 5:00 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • 27% of Gen Z adults say they trust Little Caesars “a lot,” earning the pizza chain a top 5 spot on Gen Z’s “Most Trusted Brands: Limited-Service Restaurants” list.

  • The pizza chain achieves reach and relevance by meeting Gen Zers on their terms, including launching of-the-moment menu items and delivering great value to customers.

  • Brands looking to earn Gen Z’s trust can emulate tactics utilized by the pizza chain like keeping an open dialogue and delivering on the cohort's expectations for experimentation and value.

This analysis pulls from our Most Trusted Brands 2023 report, our yearly effort highlighting the brands that have secured consumer trust around the world. Download the full report.

Every day, Morning Consult Brand Intelligence, our flagship platform, asks thousands of consumers both in the United States and around the world about thousands of brands: “How much do you trust this brand to do what is right?” There are many routes to earning high trust marks from consumers on that question, and they tend to vary by industry and demographic. With Gen Z in particular, trust is far from guaranteed, but in the competitive limited-service restaurant category, Little Caesars is breaking the norm. The pizza chain cracks Gen Z’s top 5 most trusted restaurant brands: Gen Z adults are more likely than other generations to say they trust the company “a lot.” The pizza chain’s marketing strategy and tactics are clearly winning over this key cohort and setting an example for brands looking to do the same.

Gen Z has trust issues

Even brands that garner the highest levels of trust have work to do with Gen Z. The youngest generation of adults is less likely than the general population to say they trust every brand on our “Most Trusted Brands: United States” list to do what is right. They’re also more likely to have lower average net trust in the 1,500+ brands we track domestically on MCBI.

Gen Zers Are Less Trusting of Brands Than Older Generations

Average net trust (percentage points)
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Source: Morning Consult Brand Intelligence

This makes sense given that Gen Zers as a whole exhibit lower levels of trust in all industries and institutions. Some of this trust will be built up over time — remember, Gen Zers are young consumers. They need additional touchpoints over time with these brands to continue to build trust. But brands also need to work to meet Gen Zers where they are now without coming off as the corporation in the room.

Coming of age alongside social media and the internet with unlimited access to information at their fingertips, younger consumers can get to know brands more intimately than generations that came before them. This behind-the-scenes view can make consumers more skeptical of marketing efforts. It can also open the door for two-way communication and interaction with young customers.

Little Caesars earns Gen Z’s trust with relevant menu items and great value

Restaurants, like other industries, have an opportunity to improve trust among Gen Z. For an example of how to connect with Gen Zers and earn their trust, peers can look to Little Caesars. Recent efforts have helped Little Caesars achieve reach and relevance, landing the brand a top 5 spot on this year’s “Most Trusted Brands: Limited-Service Restaurants” list for this highly coveted generation.

Little Caesars Earns High Trust From Gen Z

Trust responses by generation
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Source: Morning Consult Brand Intelligence

To gain awareness, and the opportunity to earn Gen Z’s trust, Little Caesars is meeting members of the generation on their terms. That means giving their pizza-loving Gen Z customers what they want — like the return of Pretzel Crust pizza. Little Caesars let the fanfare build with this limited re-release around April Fool’s Day by first announcing a fake corn-cob crust pizza before coming out with the real announcement for the buttery, soft pretzel crust pizza with creamy cheddar cheese sauce that fans had been clamoring for online.

It also means being a part of their favorite activities — like gaming. Ahead of the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II in the fall of 2022, Little Caesars partnered with Mountain Dew and offered a Call of Duty combo including a large Slices-N-Stix pizza, Crazy Sauce, and a Mountain Dew. The chain also offered unique game codes to unlock Double XP as well as access to other bonus in-game items.

How Much Each Group Said They Trust Little Caesars to Do What Is Right

How Gen Z adults perceive the value offered by the following brands:
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Source: Morning Consult Brand Intelligence

Value is also a key component of Little Caesars’ strategy. The chain does not sell $5 Hot-N-Ready pizzas anymore — a disappointment to fans, but no surprise in this inflationary environment. However, Little Caesars is still focused on a value-positioning strategy. For example, when you Google Little Caesars, you’ll see the brand’s menu offerings described as the “Best Value Delivery and Carryout.” This claim resonates with Gen Zers, who were 6 points more likely to say Little Caesars is a “very good” value compared with another popular delivery and carryout pizza option: Papa John’s. And in the competitive quick-service restaurant category, every point counts.

Emily Moquin previously worked at Morning Consult as a lead food & beverage analyst.


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