Four Things We Can Learn From Five Guys About Authenticity

Four Things We Can Learn From Five Guys About Authenticity

Marketing For Loyalty

President Obama at  Five Guys

President Obama at Five Guys

In the summer of 2009 during President Obama’s first year, NBC filmed a behind-the-scenes special called “Inside The White House”. Despite its title, these spots usually breed seriously fake smiles and new focus-group-approved ‘habits’. Not the case though when the President and the crew stepped out to have lunch at a Washington area Five Guys. A well-known burger fan, Obama publicly put the presidential seal of approval on their juicy burgers and salty fries. The presidency and the chain both got an approval boost for their grounded, Americana bona fidas. Authentic or not, authenticity won out.

Five Guys doesn’t tout, it just presents itself as the best of its kind. And that’s pretty authentic and worthy of a cult-like following.

1. Utilize Word-of-mouth Marketing

Word-of-mouth is the name of the game. Just as the brand didn’t hype Obama’s visit, they let their loyal following do the work. Five Guys learned early that they couldn’t compete with other chains’ ad budget, so they decided on a customer sourcing strategy. With basically no budget for national advertising, Five Guys relies on social media hashtag research and quick response for negative feedback to build their brand. The buzz surrounding their burgers is really coming from their patrons. When you know this about Five Guys, they’re positioned as the market underdog and it produces a mass following. Brilliant.


2. Invest in Employees

To incentives employees to uphold their friendly servicemantra, Five Guys invested in third-party mystery shoppers. These shoppers evaluate service and offer major bonuses to employees. This nurturing produces loyalty.

3. Be True To Your Brand In The Small and Big Things

According to PR Manager Molly Catalano, even the interior has been well-thought out. Shops are designed to be all about the food. No frills, no excess decorations, just an open kitchen, stacks of potatoes boxes of peanut oil and even peanuts themselves. Don’t be bullied into doing something off-brandeither. In their infancy, a Pentagon Admiral phoned Five Guys for a delivery. Their no-frills policy calls for no deliveries, not even for the powerful. To beat the point home, Five Guys printed a 22-foot-long banner that shouted “Absolutely No Delivery”. Be proud of your focus on quality.

4. Don’t Give In To Trends if They Won’t Help the Brand

When sourcing ingredients, Five Guys look for freshness, lack of preservatives, and Five Guy standards which demand no freezers just coolers. The vast majority of their fries are cooked from the best northern soils of Idaho, and they are quick to tell you in wall postings where the recent potato crop has come from. With a near-obsessive focus on quality, Five Guys unintentionally offers no certified organic or antibiotic-free items. According to Molly, organic doesn’t mean quality in every case. Rather a fresh quality is what they’re after. The franchise isn’t claiming health benefits from their offerings, just fresh and enjoyable meals. In an age of meaningless buzz words, authenticity is surely appreciated by the public.


And, the public has rewarded the chain. From the latest Harris Poll EquiTrend survey’s “Burger Brand of the Year”, Five Guys beat out In-N-Out for the second time in a row.

Tasting table describes the experience.

The restaurant’s signature brown paper bag — made soggy by seeping peanut oil — has become an image of good ol’ American fast food, helping the chain defend its title for the second year in a row.

Often it’s the real folks from the real world that win our hearts.

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