The Gay-Marriage Controversy Probably Won’t Hurt Chick-Fil-A’s Bottom Line

A recent release from GLAAD suggests Chick-fil-A’s brand is taking a hit after reminding the public of its involvement in anti-gay politics. But are the fast-food chain’s profits getting plucked too?

YouGov releasd data indicating people’s perception of Chick-fil-A has taken a dive of late, according to a polls of customers of major chains like Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, McDonald’s and Burger King. In the survey, Subjects were asked about quality, impression, value, reputation, satisfaction and willingness to recommend.

On July 16, when Cathy told the Baptist Press he was “guilty as charged” about being against marriage equality, the restaurant’s score was a robust 65. Four days later, it had fallen to a 47 score, three points below the Top National QSR Sector average (above).  By this Wednesday—after activists, the Muppets and mayors in major American cities all took stances against the company—Chick-Fil-A had a 39, compared to the average score of 43.

Interestingly, the Midwest was the one region that bucked the trend: Chick-Fil-A’s perception rose from 45 on July 16 to a score of 70 two days later, before eventually returning to the score it had before Cathy spoke to the paper. (Without more data it’s hard to say if Cathy’s interview was directly responsible for the bump.)

But brand perception is a little abstract—how have Chick-fil-A’s coffers been since Cathy opened his yap?

Recent figures aren’t available yet, but in 2011 Chick-fil-A exceeded $4 billion in sales—or about $2,500,000 in sales per franchise. And even being closed on Sundays, which costs its 1,600 franchises to lose $700 million in sales annually, Chick-fil-A has reported consecutive growth every year since it opened.

For comparison, McDonald’s operates 34,000 stores, and does $27 billion in business annually, but operates 34,000 outlets—meaning its per-store figure is $800,000.

There would have to be a disaster on the scale of Chernobyl to make a significant dent in those figures. We’d love it if the chicken chain dips into the red because of the controversy, but it doesn’t seem likely. Most Americans don’t follow issues relating to same-sex marriage. And many that do aren’t on our side. Considering how right wingers like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are going out of their way to give Chick-fil-A free endorsements and promotion, there’s a possibility profits could rise this quarter.

Looking at Chick-fil-A’s corporate website, we did find something interesting: Under a section titled “How does Chick-fil-A do it?” the site explains its recipe for success as listening to customers; emphasizing quality; and focusing on getting better, not bigger.

Not a word about how following a biblical business plan has been the secret to their success. We’d bet that’s because they know it’s not.

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  • Jeff

    The most dangerous place in the world is between a Palin and a camera!

  • B

    With respect to “Not a word about how following a biblical business plan has been the secret to their success.”

    During World War II, there was a popular song entitled, “Praise the Lord but pass the ammunition.” At least they knew what worked.

  • MikeE

    one has to take into consideration how many of those McDonalds outlets are in malls that are closed early, or in Walmarts that are not open late every day of the week (they do exist).

    honestly, if you reduced the number of McDonalds outlets by half, they’d probably make the same amount of money nationally. I’ve seen streets that had two McD’s a block apart. talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

  • Daez

    @MikeE: The strategy is referred to as over-saturation, and it works by making the brand so prevalent that it is impossible to avoid. It makes other brands that are attempting to compete have a much harder time of gaining recognition.

  • jj

    Except that in the long term it could seriously hurt their growth and their bottom line.A key example would be chicago refusing to open any more chik-fil a’s. Before this thing blew up alot of people didnt know about their anti-gay ways, and now 99% of america knows and can decide for themselves if they want to support a company like chik-fil-a.

  • Brandon

    May I remind everyone that there is no formal boycott of Chick Fil A?

  • Kev C

    I wouldn’t rely on conservative christians to keep their chain going. They can barely support their favorite chains like Crackerbarrel, Bob Evans, Carl’s Jr, and several defunct and bankrupt chains (Country Buffet, Roy Rogers). And those chains don’t attract young people because they smell funny. I expect Chick Fil A to downsize in the future.

  • Hal Shipman


    First: that number of McD stores is wrong. There are about 15,000 in the US. I just finished working on a project that touched every one of those – I have no idea where your # came from, but certainly not from any store list I ever saw.

    Second: the song is “Praise the Lord AND Pass the Ammunition.”. Totally opposite meaning of what MikeE claims. Google is your friend. Use it: http://my.execpc.com/~dschaaf/praise.html

  • Hal Shipman

    And cutting the number of stores in half getting you the same revenue? No. Just, no. The profit expectations for a store are very high. If you don”t perform, your franchise is yanked away.

  • Michael

    May I ask who actually wrote this piece and if they have any background in economics?

    Dangerous journalism at it’s, um, “best”. The YouGov data released seems to advise Chick-fil-A is in a lot of trouble. Sure, their profits are going to go up for a bit but it’s the long term affect. While I may not have any background in economics, I do know a thing or two about drama and the fact the other side is freaking out seems to indicate they’re got good reason to do so.

  • DJ

    The Chic-Fil-A stores are all owned by franchisees. I don’t eat there because I don’t care for fast food, but I can’t see penalizing the people who own these franchises along with their employees just because the president of the franchisor is a religious asshole.

    But of course the nasty queen contingent always looks for blood from anyone they can get their hands on, whether they’re innocent or guilty, whenever someone else dares to speak out against us.

  • Belize

    Of course it won’t affect their bottom line. If you’re already at the bottom of the barrel, how further down can you go?

  • Flick

    All hoopla aside, Chick-Fil-A is an incredibly sup-bar restaurant that tastes cheap (but isn’t), and makes you regret not going to McDonald’s across the street. I ate there a few times back when I lived in the South. The chicken is very dense and it ended up giving me stomach cramps.

    Actually, I think everyone should eat there once, then see that it isn’t that great, and never eat there again. I hate to think that the publicity we have given Chick-Fil-A is making people want to eat there (especially the fundies).

  • mc

    @DJ: It’s a free country and no one is obligated to spend their money on a place whose president has sent millions of dollars to anti gay groups. That does not make someone a nasty queen.

    Also the franchise owners cannot be innocent about the type of company they bought into. They were given a clue when they were not allowed to open on Sundays. The donations that the company president was giving to was also not a secret.

    There’s lots of places to get a nice fast food chicken sandwich if people desire without that side helping of homophobia.

  • Ruhlmann

    If everyone knew what a chicken goes through before it dies a, most times, prolonged and painful death supplying the fast food chains they’d feel sick just passing one of these places. I don’t do fast food ever and I get the small amount of meat I eat from a Mennonite butcher that sells drug and antibiotic free beef, pork and poultry which are free range.

    @DJ The franchisees are doing business with and for religious zealots who want you completely without rights of any kind. That makes them colateral damage and fair game. Their success insures the corporation has money to work against you.

    Some silly queens don’t have the depth to see the big picture and would lose their rights so someone can keep a minimum wage job and a businessman keep his fat and cholestoral factory. America has enough religious zealots, silly queens and she sure as hell could do with les fat.

  • Gary

    First and foremost, I have long been a supporter of gay marriage/adoption. If either or both of these issues make the ballot, you can count on my vote. It’s time to move forward.

    However, in spite of my support of the issue, I am also fair and objective to a fault. This mainstream media assault on conservative Christians, particularly WHITE conservative Christians, must stop. It is nothing more than hate speech and intolerance to people who believe differently.

    That is exactly what you’re supposed to be fighting.

    It’s also counter-productive because you’re just re-broadcasting his beliefs to those far beyond the normally-closed white Baptist community.

    Your fight is not against the Baptists. You’re not going to convince them anyway because they are as close to Christian fundamentalists as you’ll find. They make up a small percentage of the voting base, but they aren’t your roadblock.

    So where is the fight? Well it starts in the Democratic party. As the author alluded to when he said “many Americans who do know the issue aren’t for us”, the problem is on both sides of the ballot, not just conservatives or Republicans.

    Christian African Americans are loyal democratic voters yet a large percentage are steadfast in their “traditional marriage” stance. Muslim African Americans even more so. Many Irish Catholics, another loyal democratic base, are against marriage equality. There are many more hidden no-voters who are afraid of being labeled homophobic, so they nod their heads in public so as not to be kicked out of the “club”, yet choose the opposite behind the curtain.

    So, while the media makes it seem like the white conservatives are responsible for preventing marriage equality, the silent dissenters remain unscathed. They are secretly agreeing with Dan Cathy and are just glad he’s taking the bullet for all of them.

    Anyway, to win the fight, you need to begin at home. Clean up the dissenters in your party and you’ll have enough to move forward. That would mean speaking out against all the groups mentioned above, including many African Americans, which is liberal blasphemy.

    Do you have the fortitude to take it there? Gut-check time, guys and gals.

    I wish you luck.

  • Truth Wins

    Fried food and white bread. I hope all conservatives eat a LOT.

  • Shannon1981

    @Gary: The thing is, almost no self identified conservative is going to be for gay rights or fight for them. There are way fewer homophobes in the Republican party than there are in the Democratic party. No group is monolithic, so there are always those exceptions to every rule. Cliche, but true.

    However, where it counts is at the ballot box. For instance, African Americans. While many disagreed with Barack Obama coming out for marriage equality, they can take an “agree to disagree” stance and still support him.

    At the end of the day, no matter one’s private thoughts on the matter, what they do in the voting booth is what counts. Generally, if you vote right you vote against gay rights, whether you want to or not. Vote left, and you vote for gay rights, whether you want to or not.

  • David Ehrenstein

    @DJ: And the KAPOS always look for an excuse to priase our enemies.

  • Sick of them

    Queerty, why even bother giving this trailer trash family any attention? That’s what they live for. If everyone would just ignore this disgusting family and not give them attention, they’d go away.

  • Cam

    So let me get this straight.

    Their brand identity has taken a huge hit.

    Customer perception has gone way down.

    The author has no recent polls or evidence to suggest that this isn’t effecting the company., and yet comes up with the headline that says all of this bad publicity won’t hurt Chik Fil A. So since the author is making this claim all evidence to the contrary may I ask where the author got his PHD in Statistics?

    Is it Dan Avery’s job to post headlines that defy all evidence to the contrary? This is the latest in a string of them.

  • hf2hvit

    @DJ: And a great deal of the franchisee’s money goes to that “president of the franchisor [who is] is a religious asshole.”

    Not MY money.

  • stoopid louie

    @Cam: I may be stoopid, but . . . apparently you didn’t pay close attention to the numbers. Their numbers have gone up. Up, not down. “Customer perception” has certainly gone down, you say—among you and your peers, of course, but in the eyes of the nation? It doesn’t seem so. Just because you don’t like the information provided by Dan Avery doesn’t make it inaccurate. Don’t get me wrong, I think gay marriage should exist, but the only people who care about this restaurant’s policies are bored, militant fags and their hags. Time to move on to important things.

  • F Stratford

    To those who think the franchisees are blameless, let’s just say that maybe they are pro-gay. Well, if they truly are they should change their company from inside out and kick this President out. If not, then they are helping enrich a person that hates us so much he has donated 3Million so that our rights are denied.

    They can run their stores free of government intervention, but I will never buy from them. And I will explicitly tell my friends to stop eating at CFA when they are with me and that every $ they spend over there is a slap in my face. If they are truly friends, I would like to see them at least try to reduce their cfa patronage.

  • Cam

    @stoopid louie: said..

    “@Cam: I may be stoopid, but . . . apparently you didn’t pay close attention to the numbers. Their numbers have gone up. Up, not down. “Customer perception” has certainly gone down, you say—among you and your peers, of course, but in the eyes of the nation? ”

    You are the same liar that has been on here defending Chick Fil A the entire time. I get that you bigots freak out when you get caught and called out on your bigotry, but sorry, the numbers haven’t gone up. You may have missed two things.

    1. That no reports have been put out since the controversy erupted so your claim is a blatant lie.

    2. Chick Fil A openings have been delayed, or stopped.

    3. The sad fact that you have to spend all your time on a gay blog defending this bigoted business really points out what a sad life you have.

  • Chris

    @Kev C: What are you talking about? Cracker Barrel did about 2.4 billion last year, about q.9 million per store, not exactly struggling.

    Carl’s jr had their six straight year of sales growth, but there are multiple Christian boycotts of Carl’s Jr for advertising that was too sexy.

    So I repeat, both from you claims s that they are barely supported, and your claim that they are Christian chains….what are you talking about?

  • Chris

    @Kev C: What are you talking about? Cracker Barrel did about 2.4 billion last year, about 1.9 million per store, not exactly struggling.

    Carl’s jr had their six straight year of sales growth, but there are multiple Christian boycotts of Carl’s Jr for advertising that was too sexy.

    So I repeat, both from you claims s that they are barely supported, and your claim that they are Christian chains….what are you talking about?

  • Chris

    @Cam: While I rarely agree with Dan Avery, on anything,in this case, because of the huge numbers it would require to make any significant difference he is probably correct. Couple that with the fact that most of the chain is located in Bible belt states, with very few on the coasts or in the NorthEast (one in NY, one in LA, none in Boston), and it would be very difficult to do any actual financial damage, Even though the perception has dipped nationally,

    Add that to the fact that even many people who support gay marriage don’t feel strongly enough about it to give up their waffle fries…even some married gay people don’t want to give up the Waffle fries.

    Personally, I don’t see this as a boycott. boycotts are designed inherently to achieve change in the way a company does business. I don’t see that happening here. I prefer to think of it as I simply choose to to give my money to a company that gives it to hate groups. So even if they are not affected, and stll gve millions to hate, at least they won’t be doing it with my money.

  • Denis

    Chik-Fil-A sucks! They have a legal right to run an organization based on their beliefs, just as we have the right to put them out of business! Remember Anita Bryant?

  • Kev C

    @Chris: Something is seriously wrong if Crackerbarrel is thriving. Maybe the numbers are being manipulated, or maybe the population has increased so much that people are desperate for food, however nasty tasting.

  • Chris

    @Kev C: Well, I doubt the sales figures are being manipulated, that seems to be a spurious accusation to make simply based on the fact that you don’t like their food. Have you ever driven by one with an empty parking lot? I certainly haven’t. And the AUDITED sales figures are 2.4 billion, 30 seconds of google search turns up their annual reports.

    So where did you get your claim that they were struggling? I am sure no one is self centered or pretentious enough to make up something because they dont’t like the food.

  • Kev C

    @Chris: The people who eat at Cracker Barrels are older and poor, and typically white and heterosexual, as Cracker Barrel has a bad reputation amongst blacks and gays. It doesn’t attract young, diverse customers.

  • Chris

    @Gary: You showed your lack of facts with your claim of media attack on Christians. . Hate group leaders regularly go unchallenged on network and cable news. Your entire post is designed simply to agitate long discredited racial tensions, it actually looks like part of NOMs racial division memo. Nice try, but no one here is that gullible.

  • Chris

    @Hal Shipman: Actually his numbers are correct for worldwide outlets and revenues for McDonalds. The author never stated his numbers were limited tothe U.S., and the readily available number fr McDs are all based on worldwide figures.

    I find myself defending Dan Avery twice in one day, unheard of!

  • the other Greg

    I generally like Queerty, an informative and entertaining site. But the overkill on this subject is puzzling.

    For one thing, it’s a little difficult to believe that the party boys at Queerty really give a cr*p about marriage. They always seem up to date on the latest porn “star” news, and they seem to be too drunk half the time to even use spellcheck. (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”) I bet if they want some chicken grease some night to soak up the booze, they’re gonna fall off the boycott wagon.

    I finally had to give up on the Advocate, since its invasion by Michael Lucas, with its un-ironic odd mix of 40% Pornography Addiction News, 40% Boring Marriage News and 20% Nauseating Moral Pomposity. A lot of local gay-male-oriented publications are like that too. At least Queerty usually goes easy on the nauseating pomposity, except in this case where they seem to be suffering from withdrawal from those “waffle fries” or something.

    To make another “Seinfeld” reference, this is kind of like where Elaine, boycotting a huge pizza chain because of their anti-abortion funding, discovers to her dismay that a local business owner (Poppy) has the same beliefs. You never know with these things. I had a great barber who eventually turned out to be a Republican: suddenly plastered his shop with campaign signs for a candidate I couldn’t tolerate. So, I had to find another barber.

    @Kev C: Did you ever hear what the workers at Old Country Buffet call it? “Old C*nt,” ha ha ha. And is it cool to call you “KFC” for now?

  • Chris

    @Kev C: And you get this information where? That’s all I am asking…because you just don’t get to make up your own demographics. If you are going by observation, that would strongly be skewed by your location.

    According to retailer daily, they score extremely high in multiple categories. So if you have contradictory evidence, I would love to see it.


  • Chris

    @Kev C: And I am still trying to figure out why you claimed Carls Jr. was supported by conservative Christians. I found several site that literally prayed for Jeebus to occupy Carls Jr. to stop their heathen advertising, IO found Christian boycotts as well.
    And yet you claim they are struggling. Their public financial reports show growth every year of the last sixth, even through the economic crises. So I would love to know where you got information on them as well.

  • Kev C

    @Chris: Carl’s Jrs populate the southwest and west, which has a large population of OLD PEOPLE! How viable will their company, or Cracker Barrels, be when most of their customers will be dead in 10 years? That’s not a sustainable business plan. Maybe Carl’s Jr is reaching out to a larger audience, which is alienating their golden oldies. But Crackerbarrel doesn’t have a bright future. And that could also play into Chick Fil A’s customers too.

  • Kev C

    @Chris: Also, nobody wants to eat where everything tastes like HAM. CB’s chicken – tastes like ham. Bread and butter – tastes like ham. The napkins smell of ham. The forks are covered in ham grease. And the customers smell like ham too! A barrel of crackers.

  • Chris

    @Kev C: Again what is this based on besides your opinion? Just because YOU say it doesn’t make it true. Your info about Carls Jr, is simply idiotic. The Demographics at Carl’s skew extremely young. Always has. Your perception of the south and southwest and west is simply false, period. I guess California doesn’t have any young people, too bad for them, since that is Carl’s Jr. major market.

    So you don’t like cracker barrel…great for you. They will take their 2.4 BILLION in sales and annual increases, and high ratings over your approval any day, I am sure.

    For future reference, if you are going to spew nonsense, at least have some facts to back it up, You just look silly.

  • Kev C

    @Chris: Have you ever been to Cracker barrel or a Bob Evans? The food and the people are horrible. I’m a sensitive person. These restaurants are filled with nightmares. I’m being smothered with ham and hunks of burning Jesus. The customers look like mashed potatoes covered with sausage gravy. Strings of bacon hang from their lips, noses and ears. The air is greasy and coats everything in a film of death. It smells like Auschwitz. The waitresses are all named Alice Cooper and dress as nurses. Yes, I’ve been to a Cracker Barrel.

    Edvard Munch.com

    The Scream.jpg

  • Hal Shipman

    @Chris: Well, if you’re trying to compare worldwide for one chain versus national for another, that’s just stupid. That’s not a “comparison” at all.

  • Selrah

    @Shannon1981: “There are way fewer homophobes in the Republican party than there are in the Democratic party.”

    You don’t think you’re reaching with the above statement? Just a bit?

    Even if that were true, that would make them cowards, then. No?

  • Michael

    @DJ: So we’re nasty queens for having a modicum of self-respect? We should absolutely hold every franchisee accountable for the ills of their president. More importantly, a portion of every dollar that you spend at ANY of those restaurants will go directly to headquarters, to the son of a bitch who hates us. If boycotting them all and openly criticizing them makes me a nasty queen, so be it…because I’ll still have my dignity and self-respect. You seem all too willing to sell yours for a chicken wing.

  • Charli

    Palin gets on my nerves, but damn she’s hot!!! Wish she’d stop acting stupid , but she just can’t keep that pretty mouth SHUT!!! Lmao

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