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Insight of the Day: Consumers reshape the burger business


  • The burger sector in the U.S. generated $110 billion in sales last year, accounting for over a quarter of all Top 500 chain sales.

  • Consumer preferences are shifting towards newer or higher-quality brands, with In-N-Out surpassing Hardee's in total sales.

  • Fast-casual burger chains experienced slower growth than quick-service chains in the past year.

  • Some higher-end concepts like In-N-Out, Whataburger, Culver's, Shake Shack, and Freddy's have been gaining market share, while larger brands like Hardee's have stagnated.

  • The burger business is diverse, with various chains like Jack's Family Restaurants, Cook Out, and Hopdoddy Burger Bar showing significant growth.

Key Takeaway:

The burger industry is experiencing a shift in consumer preferences, with newer and higher-quality brands gaining traction while some traditional quick-service chains face challenges.


Higher-end burger concepts are gaining popularity, while some traditional quick-service chains are struggling to keep up with changing consumer demands.


  • To remain competitive, burger chains need to adapt to evolving consumer preferences by focusing on quality, innovation, and unique offerings.

  • Established brands like Hardee's need to address stagnant unit volumes and invest in strategies to attract and retain customers.

  • The fast-casual burger segment faces challenges, with some chains experiencing declines in sales.

  • Emerging brands like In-N-Out, Whataburger, Culver's, Shake Shack, and Freddy's are well-positioned for continued growth.

Implications for Brands:

  • Brands need to prioritize quality and differentiate themselves from competitors to capture the growing demand for higher-end burgers.

  • Innovation and unique offerings can help attract new customers and retain existing ones.

  • Investing in brand awareness and marketing strategies is crucial for staying relevant in a competitive market.

  • Understanding and adapting to changing consumer preferences is essential for long-term success in the burger industry.


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