But, No Surprise, Sports Fans Love All of the Fast Casual Burger Joints

There are few things that go more hand-in-hand than tailgating for the big game and grilling burgers.  But, while brands and advertisers spend billions annually trying to appeal to the coveted US sports fan, you’ll see very few sports marketing dollars coming from the makers of the three most popular burgers in America: Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Fuddruckers, and In-N-Out Burger. One of these companies, Five Guys, in fact, prides itself in doing virtually zero advertising at all.

But sometimes brands and lifestyle simply just align. No advertising necessary. As one of our colleagues said when we prepared for this post, “Well duh. Dudes like burgers and dudes like sports.” Okay, so maybe this isn’t an earth-shattering discovery. But exactly how much do these fast casual brands appeal to US sports fans? And who does it the best?

When compared to the full US population, America’s leading fast-casual burger restaurants, Five Guys, Fuddruckers, and In-N-Out draw a remarkably sports-centric group of diners. And, among these, nobody does it better than Five Guys.

A recent CivicScience DeepProfile report analyzed 234,720 survey responses from US consumers about their attitudes toward Five Guys, Fuddruckers, and In-N-Out (Download the full report here). After segmenting respondents who “love” or “like” each brand, CivicScience examined their answers to hundreds of other questions, comparing fans of the respective brands to each other and to the general public. Among the many topics analyzed, sports fandom emerged as a major differentiators among these burger-loving consumers.

The graph below shows how fans of the three chains and the general population compare based on nine questions used to gauge their level of sports fandom.

Using our standard -100 to 100-point CivicScience scale, Five Guys fans occupy the highest spot followed by Fuddruckers, then In-N-Out. All three of the groups score more than 10 points above average compared to the General Population.

But Five Guys is really in a league of its own. The famed zero-advertising burger joint is the most likely to attract a fan of the NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball, NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball. Five Guys loyalists are more likely to play fantasy sports and they’re a whopping 40% more likely than an In-N-Out diner to regularly attend sporting events.

In-N-Out Burger has the lowest rate of fans in all but one of the nine categories studied and, in this one, they are first. Owing largely to its strong West Coast presence, In-N-Out has the highest rate of NBA fans.  Fuddruckers, meanwhile, is remarkably consistent. They rank second in all nine of the categories we examined.

Though we’re only sharing the sports data for now, we did uncover a few other interesting observations in our data mining. In-N-Out diners are the most likely to donate to environmental charities, while Fuddruckers fans are most likely to donate to religious charities. Five Guys people are the most likely to be on Twitter; however, In-N-Out people are most likely to say the social media is a major influence in their buying decisions. Fuddruckers fans are the most likely to regularly eat fast food. In-N-Out fans are the most likely to exercise regularly. Check out more of these interesting factoids here.

It might make more than a few marketing execs envious to see a brand like Five Guys score so well with sports fans while barely lifting an advertising finger. But who could blame them? They’re already knocking it out of the park with fans.

Stay tuned for our next restaurant industry profile in two weeks. And let us know if you have any questions or great ideas for future research.