MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) has over 104 million YouTube subscribers and is one of the highest paid creators in the world, earning $54 million in 2021 alone.
He’s also in the restaurant business, having opened a virtual (delivery-only) concept, MrBeast Burger, in late 2020.
Bolstered by his vast following, the brand initially generated plenty of buzz and staggering sales. Within its first quarter, MrBeast Burger, launched in partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts, had about 300 locations available on digital marketplaces and hit its 1-millionth-burger-sold milestone. The brand swiftly became the most downloaded app on both iTunes and GoogleGOOG +0.5% Play and was one of the top five most popular Google searches worldwide.
In other words, MrBeast Burger instantly proved it could find success without a prominent storefront or convenient drive-thru or hefty marketing budget leveraged by many of its global burger peers.
Last weekend, the brand may have proven that its early success was no fluke, as it evolved from a virtual concept into its first physical location at the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Of course, celebrities trying their hand in the restaurant space is nothing new, and one trip to Nashville or Las Vegas will prove as much. Celebrities trying their hand at virtual restaurants as the space grows is also not unique. YouTuber Matt Stonie just launched Stonie Bowls through C3, for instance, while Nextbite has helped develop concepts like Wiz Khalifa’s Packed Bowls.
For food tech platform C3, creators and online influences provide a major opportunity to reach younger audiences who are gaining a tremendous amount of spending power.
None, however, seem to be nearly as disruptive to the industry as MrBeast’s venture. His virtual brand has already surpassed 1,700 locations nationwide (for context, Applebee’s has about 1,600 locations), while his physical restaurant generated a crowd of 10,000 people in the first 10 minutes.
According to the company, MrBeast Burger’s brick-and-mortar location broke a world record for most burgers sold in a single day by a single restaurant. That is certainly remarkable, given the heavyweight contenders in the ubiquitous burger category.
By evolving into a brick-and-mortar location, MrBeast Burger is proving it is in this industry for the long run and it is competing for market share.
What’s particularly intriguing about MrBeast’s early success is that it is tapping into a complete mindset shift from consumers. Simply put, younger generations are weary of brands that aren’t engaging or benevolent or relevant. In theory, at least, it’s hard for a brand to then compete with a person who may come across as fun, sincere, connected, relatable. MrBeast’s popularity proves he does just that.
Indeed, this shift has driven the growth of the creator economy throughout the past decade, and it is now believed to be worth more than $100 billion.
Notably, MrBeast isn’t just connecting with his fans through his character or his content–be it pranks, cash prizes or something else–but also through his burger brand. This physical restaurant location provides a case in point.
A physical MrBeast Burger restaurant illustrates that the brand is adaptable to consumer demands, which have changed significantly in the past two years. No longer is serving a burger from a drive-thru window enough. Consumers want their food when they want it, where they want it and how they want it, and having that omnichannel presence is critical for relevancy. As such, even legacy restaurant brands are changing their operational models to embrace dine-in, drive-thru, double drive-thru, delivery, curbside, virtual–name it.
Eventually, the novelty of MrBeast Burger at the American Dream Mall will dissipate, but the implications of this debut will long linger. MrBeast Burger’s success, virtually and now physically, will likely inspire even more celebrities, influencers and wannabes to dive into the restaurant industry and as virtual concepts provide a lower barrier to entry, they’re more than likely to find initial traction.
No doubt, many will fail once they come to the realization that it’s a tough business that requires more than just a viral following. But the influx will present even more options in an already competitive and saturated share-of-stomach competition that could draw attention, and traffic, away from some legacy or independent brands.
For younger consumers, the world isn’t changing, it has already changed, and their favorite creators are at the forefront. What’s crystal clear now is just how important it is for legacy brands to keep up.