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Chick-fil-A vs Popeyes Is A Shutout For College Football Fans



  • With mobile data analytics, Buxton determined which restaurants fans of teams in nine college football conferences favor as part of their game-day experience.
  • Despite the hype and Twitter frenzy, the data show a different picture when it comes to the favorite chicken sandwich of college football fans.


While Popeyes has been trending on Twitter since triggering a which-is-better spat with customers of Chick-fil-A, when it comes to college football fans there is a clear winner in the clash of chicken sandwiches.

Mobile location data indicates that the frenzy over the launch by the Louisiana-style quick serve restaurant of a fried chicken sandwich might fail to impress fans of teams in nine of the biggest National College Athletic Association (NCAA) football conferences, none of which ranked Popeyes among their top five favorite game-day eateries during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Popeyes, purchased by Restaurant Brands International in 2017 for $1.8 billion, had revenue of $3.2 billion from 2,347 U.S. outlets in 2018, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. That’s less than one-third of the $10.5 billion Chick-fil-A generated from just 16 more domestic locations, according to the same analysis.

Chick-fil-A was the favorite restaurant both in general and on game day during the past two seasons for fans of schools in the Southeastern Conference, which includes powerhouse the Alabama Crimson Tide, a 17-time national champion and a five-time winner of the NCAA title since 2009. 

The No. 2 game-day choice was McDonald’s for SEC devotees, whose schools also include 2010 national champ Auburn as well as 2006 and 2008 NCAA title winner Florida, and 2007 champion Louisiana State.

A Louisiana-style chicken outlet does take third place — but it ain’t Popeyes, it’s Raising Cane’s.

Chick-fil-A was also the top game-day venue for fans of Atlantic Coast Conference teams, whose schools include reigning national champion and top-ranked Clemson. 

The Tigers beat the Crimson Tide 45-17 in last season’s title game. It was the third time in four years that Clemson and Alabama vied for top honors. Alabama beat the Tigers 45-40 in the 2015-16 final and Clemson took revenge the following year, rolling over the Tide 35-31. Alabama, currently ranked second in the nation, also won the NCAA title the following year, against Georgia, another SEC team.

Chick-fil-A also came out on top on game day among fans of Sun Belt and American Athletic conference universities.

Supporters of Big 10 and Mid-American schools preferred to eat at McDonald’s on game day, while Starbucks was the top choice for those with Big 12, Pac 12 and Mountain West allegiances. McDonald’s was the second-favorite outlet on game day for five conferences in addition to the SEC — the ACC, Big 12, Pac 12, American and Sun Belt.

Buxton gathered anonymous GPS data from mobile devices using its Live Mobile Insights platform and compared that to where those same devices showed up on game days throughout the two seasons. Those pings allowed analysts to build a picture of the restaurant brands that college football fans prefer to visit on the way to or after watching their favorite team play.


For more information about Buxton’s Live Mobile Insights platform, call (817) 332-3681. 

Buxton is the industry leader in customer, tenant and property analytics specializing in the retail, restaurant, healthcare, public, and commercial real estate property technology sectors. We advise clients on real estate and marketing strategies based on trillions of consumer and location data points. 

At Buxton’s core, we help businesses, property owners and investors realize their growth and optimization potential by understanding who the relevant customers are, where existing and potential customers are located and the value each customer brings to the organization. For 25 years we have produced award-winning solutions for our clients, enabling them to successfully expand and improve the sales performance of their existing portfolio of locations. Buxton’s solutions have provided confidence to our clients in their expansion efforts, allowing them to grow faster and more effectively than their competition. Buxton is privately held and offers solutions globally in over 200 countries and territories.

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