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Five Guys Burgers Case Study

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Updated: Jan 20th, 2020

Company history and products offering

The Five Guys Company was established in 1986 as a family-operated business in Arlington, Virginia. The initial focus of the company was to serve the best burgers around Washington, D.C. As the popularity of the company increased and business flourished, it expanded to other major cities in the United State and Canada.

At the same time, Five Guys expanded their products portfolio and included other fast food meals. This was intended to cater for the differing needs of the growing number of customers as well as enhancing the competitive advantage. Due to extensive franchising that had begun in 2002, the company presently operates over 900 franchise outlets in the United States and Canada.

Across all the Five Guys locations, there are five common product lines that appear on the menus namely: burgers, dogs, sandwiches, fries and drinks. Each of these product lines may carry a range of three to eight product varieties. The burger product line is the oldest line and the major focus of the company as it reflects the quality trademark that is sold across the American market.

Products offered under the burger product line include hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon burger, bacon cheeseburger, little hamburger, littler cheeseburger, little bacon burger and little bacon cheeseburger (Five Guys, 2010). Within this product line, the cheeseburger is the most popular product and comprises of about 90% of the total burger sales.

Reasons for buying from Five Guys

For a very long time, Five Guys brand has been commended on their aptitude to avoid being recognized as a fast food restaurant and promising that the customers are getting quality products all the time, at any restaurant. The quality control that they preach is evident in their preparation procedures.

Indeed, the aptitude of the company is available in all parts of the United States, no matter where the customers are, with any product they would like. Customers cannot get the double patty usually known as the New Yorker with all toppings offered for free at McDonalds.

Yet, they can have it their own way at any of the Five Guys locations stacked with mushrooms, fried onions and steak source if they like. In addition, there are over 250,000 ways in which a customer can order a burger at the company. Customers can trust the company that quality will be maintained and the orders delivered contain foods that are never frozen but cooled.

The cheeseburger which is the core product of the company has specific features and benefits that echo in the minds of many customers around United States. Indeed, the launching of the cheeseburger in Houston caused a major local buzz as eager consumers tried the burger, with the First Lady stating publicly that the brand was her preferred burger treat (GRM TX, Inc., 2009).

The cheeseburger contains 100% fresh beef with no fillers or preservatives, providing the greatest health advantage to the consumers. The burger is served with as many free toppings as a customer would wish to have. It also comes in different sizes which range from 265 grams for cheeseburger to 317 grams for bacon cheeseburger.

While the little cheeseburger is served with one patty, the regular one is served with two. The necessary nutrition elements such as calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, fiber and protein are maintained at an acceptable level. On average, there are about 840 calories in a single burger serving which is quite normal, but the high fat and sodium content could be a health issue for the company and a market disadvantage in future.

Quality control procedure

As noted earlier, maintaining the best quality is the priority and focus of Five Guys. The company has always preached quality control. Their burns are toasted on a grill. Indeed, a burn toaster is quicker and the toasts produced are more even, although, it does not provide the caramelized taste. The beef used for their cheeseburgers is 80 percent lean, never put in a freezer and all burgers are handmade. The quality of the production process as well as the final products is observed in all locations.

At each site, food preparation is exactly the same in order for the customers to get dependable, high quality meals. For instance, all of the bread used in all locations is made from a particular recipe and ordered from the same supplier. Other raw materials such as potatoes and lettuce are also bought from the same farms.

In addition, all the staffs are required to go through the same training in regard to food preparation before any assignment is disbursed. Through these manufacturing activities, Five Guys has been able to powerfully control the quality of its products across all the 900 locations.

In addition to that, quality control is ensured at the company through secret buyers who are sent by the management to all restaurants twice a week. These shoppers taste various products at different times noting down the extent to which the franchisees deviate from the rule.

The brothers or founders also visit the locations frequently to ensure that quality is maintained. In case of severe cases regarding to poor quality and service, the franchisee may lose the contract. However, due to the strong brand name, all franchisees have maintained high quality standards which have led to good overall performance of the company.

Analyzing the market share through a questionnaire

  • Do you prefer Five Guys to other fast food restaurants? Why or Why not?
  • According to you, is Five Guys the most popular fast food restaurant for the Americans? Why?
  • Given a 5-point scale where 5 stand for best and 1 for worst in that order, where would you place Five Guys in regard to performance?
  • In regard to age, which group do you think is best represented by Five Guys’ customers?
  • Do men visit the Five Guys restaurants more frequently than women? Why or Why not?
  • Do you think that these customers are there on their first time, second time or on one of their frequent visits?
  • What do you think is the most attractive aspect of the company?
  • Do you think their functions and products reflect what they claim to be?
  • The Five Guys cheeseburger is the most popular products offered by the company. Do you agree with the statement or not? Why?
  • Why would you go for Five Guys cheeseburger instead of the McDonald or other fast food chain?
  • Do you think the cheeseburger offered in the company has the health benefits sort by consumers?
  • Where did you learn about the burger or when did you hear about the product?
  • Do you think the communication channel used by the company is effective? If no, which one would you suggest to be appropriate? Why?
  • In general, do you think the cheeseburger sale is currently performing at its best or can be improved?

Marketing strategies

In essence, the marketing strategies for Five Guys have not concentrated much on advertising. The company has invested in a comprehensive secret shoppers program. In this program, the restaurant staffs receive generous rewards by getting information from secret shoppers.

In fact, the firm budgeted for $8 million investment in secret shoppers program in 2009 (York, 2009). This marketing on shoppers’ bonuses has been the major barrier to adopt conventional advertisements. However, Five Guys engage in some form of advertising. For instance, they have been identified to use five prints adverts, interactive adverts for their website and fan boards for guerilla marketing reasons. These kinds of marketing strategies are usually implemented in form of a marketing campaign.

Sales trend

Since 2002 when Five Guys entered the franchising business, their sales have grown tremendously. As more stores are opened in untapped markets, sales climb accordingly. In 2010, the company indicated the highest growth of 70.31% for its burger (Journalistic Inc., 2012).

This was more than triple its closest competitor with 21% growth in sandwich sales. In 2011, the company sales rose by 34.7% according to a report by Techncomic, an industry consultant. Future sales are expected to increase as new restaurants are franchised and more product launches are implemented.

Five Guys commercial analysis

Most of the commercials created by Five Guys emphasize on the quality and uniqueness of their cheeseburger. In the commercial “Jeeves, I’m Hungry”, the concept of Five Guys is revealed. This commercial shows that price is not as important as the quality provided by the company. Five Guys cheeseburger is for those consumers who seek to remain healthy and active. The commercial is targeted for young upcoming consumers who are vulnerable to poor health conditions.

It tends to show to consumers that many burgers are just at their doorsteps and what is important is to identify which is Five Guys’ cheeseburger and ultimately make a healthy living. Unfortunately, the setting of the commercial appeals to only those who can afford the plush living. It fails to demonstrate the restaurant experience that is more relevant to the company’s franchising business. Consumers do not only need the quality products, but a good service to accompany and fulfill the quality aspect.


The analysis of Five Guys indicates that the company has been performing better than other competitors, yet the cheeseburger as the core product shows some weaknesses concerning health effects. The firm should reduce fat and sodium content to meet the 30% limit for healthy consumption. Since this idea of poor health state is widespread, the change must be communicated through various media channels such as internet, print, radio and television to accommodate all potential consumers.

This is justified by the fact that Five Guys is expanding and different consumers with different preferences are being targeted by individual franchisees. If the company shows commitment to healthy living, then the threat posed by organic food providers will be neutralized.


Five Guys. (2010). Five Guys burgers and fries. Web.

Global Reality and Management TX, Inc. (2009). . Web.

Journalistic Inc. (2012). . Web.

York, E. B. (2009). . AdvertisingAge. Web.

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