Photo by Dr. Wolf Wagschal
The limited-service burger segment is the largest menu segment by revenue in the restaurant industry. With more than 1,000 stores and 2012 projected top $1 billion, Five Guys dominates the “better burger” category. But competitors with new ideas are closing in.
Technomic reports that these fast-casual burger spots grew sales by 20.8 percent last year, while all limited-service burger chains grew 3.7 percent. And with that, plenty of room for continued growth, as fast-casual sales make up currently only 3.2 percent of LSR burger-segment sales.
Better-burger concepts have a lot going for them: they have the benefit of a basic and beloved menu focus. Raising the quality of the protein, bun, toppings and sides has been a winning formula. And a number of celebrity chefs have opened concepts that focus on burgers made with premium ingredients, helping to elevate their profile.
“The segment includes some of the rising stars of the industry overall. For example, Smashburger grew sales by more than 71 percent in 2011, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries increased sales by 24 percent,” said Technomic Executive Vice President Darren Tristano.
Tips to becoming a burger king:
- Many full-service chains have gotten in on the better-burger action by adding gourmet burgers to their menus and have opened burger-focused spin off concepts offering build-your-own options.
- Quick-service burger chains have raised the quality of their burger offerings as well.
- Consumers place a premium on quality of their burger: 74 percent rank quality/taste of the meat or protein as the most important part of the burger.
- Put some cheese on it. Cheeseburgers are the top hamburger type on LSR burger-chain menus.
- Customization is key. Several fast-casual brands offer a build-your-own-burger option, where customers can choose from a variety of proteins, breads, cheeses, toppings and sauces.