IHOP said this breakfast traffic is growing as well. In the past three years it has risen by 4 percent in 2015, 2 percent in 2016, and 1 percent in 2017.
Also, by demographic, IHOP’s traffic looks like this:
- 25 percent are 55-plus
- 26 percent are 34–35
- 29 percent are 18–34
- 20 percent are under 18
Meaning, half of the chain’s guest are younger than 35.
IHOP said at the time it planed to drive home its message and reignite digital advertising in the coming year, which started with a “Pancakes, Pancakes, Pancakes,” promotion.
IHOP added that reverence isn’t an issue. An in-house survey returned that eight in 10 consumers said they love the brand; 63 percent said IHOP is always coming up with something new; 51 percent said it’s cool and up to date; 43 percent said it’s on its way up; and 42 percent said IHOP is not afraid to take risks.
There’s undeniably some ground to make up in terms of innovation. You could surely say this was the move of a brand not afraid to take risks, meaning it was outside the box of what IHOP has been for decades, according to consumer sentiment. Being “cool and up to date,” is another slot this promotion fills, or could fill if it has the intended effect.
IHOP has made other moves to this effect, including a Rise N’ Shine Remodel program intended to drive up average-unit volumes and reinvigorate older locations.
“Based on guest feedback … and focus groups, they told us that our pre-remodeled restaurants were feeling outdated and a bit dragged,” Rebelez said in April. “The remodel program has helped to successfully reshape the consumer experience with a layout that feels more inviting but being open and cheerful. The modern décor also helps the brand until useful and our restaurants more welcoming.”
Franchisees completed 46 remodels in the first quarter of fiscal 2018 and IHOP expects to finish about 275 this year. Since the program’s inception, more than 660 units, or 49 percent of the domestic system, has been remodeled.
On the technology side, IHOP unrolled a passport feature to its mobile app that allows guests to take pictures of its internationally inspired packages for perks. This resulted in downloads of the app more than doubling. IHOP also said recently it’s entering into a strategic relationship with Comcast to upgrade WiFi at all restaurants—a move expected to be completed by year’s-end.
IHOP launched its to-go platform nationwide in mid-November. The IHOP ‘N GO platform includes online ordering, a mobile app, and delivery in some markets. To go accounted for 6.5 percent of total sales at the end of the first quarter, up 150 basis points compared to the same quarter last year. Average check on online to-g orders was tracking about 36 percent.
“In today's world, dinning and technology go virtually hand-in-hand,” Rebelez said. “Technology influences how and where we decide to dine. With that in mind, we're focused on engaging our guests both inside and outside our restaurants through an omnichannel experience.”
Logan Flatt, senior vice president, strategy at Ansira, a leading data-driven, technology-enabled marketing solutions provider, said the move should provide a boost, especially in the short-term.
"Based on the social media buzz, local news coverage, and word-of-mouth it has earned so far, the IHOb campaign has been successful at generating awareness of IHOP's new Ultimate Steakburgers line of hamburgers. That's quite valuable," he said. "The campaign is more of a brand stunt than a brand equity-building campaign. The campaign is purposefully using brand confusion to induce incredulity in the minds of consumers who in turn are using their mouths and fingertips to express their disbelief, scorn, and bemusement at the brand name change, albeit a temporary one. It certainly has people talking—for now. Whether it creates a sustained lift in lunch and dinner sales for IHOP over the long term remains to be seen."