CHICAGO — Pizza restaurants are focusing on value to draw in consumers, which has led to a 3% sales increase in 2012, according to Mintel.

“The competitive nature of the pizza industry keeps the leading companies on their toes,” said Eric Giandelone, food service director at Mintel. “Menu innovation, thoughtful pricing and national promotions aimed at value have been driving sales in the past several years and are expected to continue in the future.”

The average pizza price point has remained flat during the past three years, but restaurants have been making up for this by increasing prices of other items on the menu such as vegetables, desserts, pasta and salad. Salad has experienced a 10% increase in sales on pizza menus during the past three years as restaurants are working to add more healthful items as well as boost sales with an add-on. Salads also bode well for restaurants when they are required to show their calorie counts.

Overall, convenient location, price, speed of service and variety are the biggest factors in determining consumer choice of a pizza restaurant, Mintel said.

Thin crust is the most preferred crust among consumers with 38% of consumers stating a preference for such, and pan-style and thick crust are nearly even as the second favorite with 20% and 19% of consumers, respectively, preferring such crusts. Pepperoni is still the most popular topping with 67% of consumers stating their preference for it.