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.