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Kraft Foods is rolling national with its DiGiorno Rising Crust frozen pizza, convinced it can take a bigger slice of the $25 billion pizza market.

DiGiorno, currently in about 75% of the country, is on track to become a $100 million brand before it reaches full national distribution in mid-1997, said Tom Sampson, VP-marketing at Kraft's pizza division.

"We'll have a 12% share of market by the time we're national," he predicted. Currently the brand holds a 4.3% share, according to Information Resources Inc.


Mr. Sampson said that, with DiGiorno, Kraft was "trying to reinvent frozen pizza" by creating a new concept rather than modifying current ones. The brand incorporates new technology that actually bakes, rather than reheats, the crust in the oven.

That, Kraft said, allows the brand to taste more like takeout pizza than other frozen pies.

DiGiorno is marketed in eight varieties, including spinach/mush-room and chicken/vegetable.

The comparison with takeout is evident in the advertising, a TV, outdoor and print campaign themed "It's not delivered, it's DiGiorno." TV spots from Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, show a party and a dinner scene with diners surprised their pizza didn't come from the local pizzeria.

According to Competitive Media Reporting, Kraft spent about $4 million advertising the DiGiorno pizza in the first half of 1996, when it was in more limited distribution. Kraft would not disclose its budget, but ad spending is estimated to be about $10 million to $15 million.

Mr. Sampson noted that 50% of those who have sampled the pizza bought one, the "second highest repeat rate in Kraft history."

"We plan to aggressively invest on awareness, trial, PR and sampling to create new news in the category" during 1997, Mr. Sampson said.

He said there was plenty of room to take business away from takeout, since only 7% of pizzas sold annually come from the supermarket, where frozen pizza sales stand at $1.7 billion.


DiGiorno has a suggested retail price of $5.60, high for the supermarket but inexpensive compared to pizzerias.

The brand rounds out Kraft's successful pizza portfolio, which also includes the Tombstone and Jack's brands.

Tombstone holds a 24.7% share of the category, according to IRI, while Jack's holds 7.2%. Including DiGiorno's 4.3% share, Kraft holds 36.2% of the category.

Kraft, which uses A.C. Nielsen Co. figures, puts its corporate share of 34% against Schwann's Tony's and Red Baron brands, combined at 25%, and Pillsbury Co.'s Totino's at 14%.

Mr. Sampson promises new products next year for Tombstone and said the company is testing media advertising for Jack's, a price brand popular among families with kids.

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