The Toledo-based pizza Titan, Marco’s Pizza, has plans to expand into Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Cayman Islands. The company wants to add over 50 franchise into the international arena by 2025. While these plans seem ambitious, Marco’s Pizza is already experiencing massive success in Puerto Rico. The company entered the U.S. territory in 2015 and will have 19 franchises by the end of the year.
One of the main calling cards Marco’s Pizza has against its competitors is the claim that it’s the only national pizza franchise founded by a native Italian, Pasquale "Pat" Giammarco. Nationally, Marco’s Pizza has over 900 locations in 34 states, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. The goal is to reach 1,000 locations by the end of the year. The company is not just focused on Latin America and the U.S., however. Marco’s Pizza gave franchise rights for India to a U.S. franchisee. The plan is to open 400 stores by 2025, despite there being no stores in India currently. It will be interesting to see how Marco’s Pizza reacts to the local consumer preferences of each country. While cheese and pepperoni are a staple in the U.S. market, India prefers ingredients such as minced mutton, pickled ginger, and cottage cheese.
Taking into consideration local tastes and preferences is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to international franchising. Infrastructure, labor and staffing, maintaining, brand standards, and risks associated with expansion will also be challenges Marco’s Pizza will have to face head-on when entering these foreign markets. Let’s take a look at the implications for each of these challenges.
Marco’s Pizza is more likely to be successful in countries with well-established infrastructures. Consumers need ways of getting to and from the company's restaurants. This means roads, bridges, and highways need to be accessible and well-kept.
Labor and Staffing:
A strong workforce is crucial to the success of any growing franchise. Marco’s Pizza will have to find ways to recruit and retain workers as well as establish a balance between corporate and local culture. Developing countries are very attractive markets for franchises because there is oftentimes an enthusiastic and unskilled workforce that doesn’t require as high of wages compared to U.S standards.
This is one of the trickiest aspects of international franchising. Marco’s Pizza will need to encourage the localization of its brand while also upholding the standards it has in place. An example of this can be seen with Pizza Hut. In the U.S., Pizza Hut is viewed more as a place where consumers pick up the pizza or have it delivered. In the Middle East and Asia, however, Pizza Hut is considered a full-service restaurant. Adapting its positioning to match local preferences will make Marco’s Pizza an international hit.
Expanding into the international market is a risky move for any restaurant franchise since consumer preferences are difficult to measure. Because of this, many franchises have failed when they expanded outside of the U.S. Yet, some U.S.-based franchises have been more successful abroad than back home. For instance, KFC’s largest market is China, not the U.S. By expanding internationally, Marco’s Pizza may tap into previously unknown markets.
By keeping these considerations in mind, Marco’s Pizza will separate itself from the rest and seal its spot in the international market.