closeup of female hands while kneading

Artisanal products barely registered on PROFIT’s Hype Danger meter for 2014: the explosive growth of micro-breweries, farmers’ markets and Etsy.com proves the consumer’s craving for authenticity hasn’t been overestimated.

Do customers care if what they’re buying really is artisanal, or are they happy with the illusion of authenticity?

This growing trend should be good news for smaller operations. The trouble is, larger competitors now are working to inject some of that hand-crafted charm into their mass-produced products. Now that it’s become trendy to buy handmade goods, could big corporations squeeze smaller players out of that niche?

The latest big player to go “authentic” is Pizza Hut. The large pizza chain is purposefully letting air bubbles and stray cheese mess up its pie crust. Officially, this will be announced as a revamped, hand-tossed pizza with a lighter, airier crust. Although Pizza Hut isn’t publicizing it, deliberate imperfections also are part of this recipe.

Read: Can You Pull Off DIY Branding?

Carrie Walsh, Pizza Hut’s chief marketing officer, told the Canadian Press that employees were trained to have “more freedom” when stretching out the new hand-tossed pies. The idea is to give the product a more handmade look, in line with the growing push by companies to ensure their food doesn’t seem as though it rolled off factory conveyor belts. “What we want to highlight is that these really are handcrafted,” Walsh said. “We’re encouraging [employees] to make sure they make each pizza one of a kind.”

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