What’s the internal reaction been like at IHOP as this whole campaign has blown up?
It’s been a lot of fun, I will say that. Literally everyone here has had their phones blowing up from everybody they know trying to pump us for information, and trying to figure out what the “b” stood for. It’s been a lot of fun. But it’s also been a really great reminder of just how beloved this brand is. And how relevant it is today. I think there’s a misperception out there about our brand that maybe because we’re 60 years young that we’re not as relevant as we should be. Over 50 percent of our guest base is aged 34 and under. So we have a great following with millennials, a great following with Gen Z. So I think this exercise this week, and the level of engagement and support we’ve seen on social media, kind of indicates that. We’re very relevant to a younger generation.
Dine Brands CEO Stephen Joyce said in a recent earnings call that the death of casual dining was “false news” and echoed some of these points.
Look, our brand is loved by all generations. We certainly have seen seniors as well, but we’re focused on families. We get families and with families come people of all ages. That’s who we’ve always been, and particularly now I think this initiative has been a spotlight on that.
Let’s talk about the goal of igniting lunch and dinner dayparts. Breakfast accounted for 49 percent of sales last year and obviously IHOP doesn’t want to detract from that strength. But how can burgers help the brand capitalize on the whitespace lunch and dinner offer?
We had to start with the product itself. We really had to make sure we had a high, high-quality product because everybody knows that we do great breakfast food but we’re not as well known for our other foods. So we started there. We started off with the meat. We’ve got an all-natural, 100 percent USDA Choice Black Angus steak that we make our burgers out of, and we hand-press them on the grill to really lock in the juices and flavors. And we top it with all kinds of high-quality products, whether it’s our custom-cured hickory smoked bacon or thick-cut onion rings, or in the case of our Brunch Burger we put an over easy fried egg, hickory-smoked bacon, and a hash brown potato cake on there. All of that is on our brioche bread bun, which is the same bread that we use on our brioche French toast. We started off with high-quality ingredients that we know are going to deliver.
The second thing we needed to do is let everybody know that we’re actually in the burger business. That’s kind of the phase we’re in right now. We did a teaser campaign and got everybody talking about it. All eyes on us. Now, we’ve had the reveal. There are probably not too many people in America who don’t know that we’re selling steakburgers now.
And then the third component of that was offering a compelling value proposition for the guest to come in and try it. That offer right now is our classic cheeseburger with unlimited fries and a soft drink or iced tea for only $6.99. What we’ve found in our testing is that any time a consumer had tried the product the intent to revisit scores were off the charts. We knew we were on to the right product, we just had to find a way to let people know we had it, and give them a reason to come in. We think we’ve done all three of those and now we’ll see the results of that in the coming weeks.