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‘IHOb’ Buzz Was A Hit With Men, But Shows IHOP Struggling With Women

IHOP is looking at a broader strategy than just being recognized for having burgers. The underlying message by promoting burgers is that IHOP wants to be known more more than just breakfast, which is what pancakes can be viewed as an emblem for.

Three weeks after IHOP captured a large swath of social media attention by teasing a mysterious name change to “IHOb,” with the subsequent reveal that the “b” stands for “burgers,” the initial results in terms of restaurant visits appears mixed.

According to Foursquare, visits to IHOP between June 11-17 saw a 4.6 percent increase in the number of men showing up. However, an overall gain in visitation was lost as women actually visited the chain less than before — female foot traffic was down about 2.2 percent during that period.

Source: Foursquare

Foursquare based its analysis on activity found via its Foursquare City Guide and Swarm social check-in app, as well as the company’s partner apps. It compared visits during the “IHOb” promotion period to the eight weeks preceding the IHOP burger campaign. (Foursquare has previously noted that it sees more than 3 billion visits a month around the globe, thanks to a panel of more than 25 million people who have opted into always-on location sharing via its apps).

IHOb Is About Dayparts, Not Burgers

While the IHOb numbers are initially underwhelming, it’s safe to say that any such promotion that doesn’t involve freebies for a product that consumers already want won’t move huge numbers of people.

That’s particularly true when it comes to a product as ubiquitous as a burger.

It’s safe to say that IHOP is looking at a broader strategy than just being recognized for having burgers. The underlying message by promoting burgers is that IHOP wants to be known more more than just breakfast, which is what pancakes can be viewed as an emblem for.

And so this first phase of the campaign, created by Droga5, is about communicating to young men — mostly — about considering IHOP for other parts of the day.

Let’s be truthful, the general public wasn’t talking about IHOP, but now they are,” noted Bill McLaughlin, SVP Sales & Marketing at ShopAdvisor.

The big questions for IHOP as it tries to keep the conversation alive is if it can inspire continued social media chatter about its burgers — something that isn’t evident at the moment — and if it can show up in local searches when people are looking for a spot to have lunch or dinner or late night food at.

“70 percent of consumers are searching for a cuisine type or food item, not by a restaurant name,” says Lee Zucker, Head of Industry/GM – Food Services for Yext (full disclosure: Yext owns GeoMarketing. More details on that relationship here). “How does IHOb guarantee that they’re appearing in search for ‘burgers near me’ or ‘lunch open now’ if those are the periods they’re optimizing for to attract diners?

“If somebody were to make a branded search during this campaign, does Google know where the nearest IHOb is located or is Google still ranking for IHOP?” Zucker adds. “If IHOb is not optimizing for the ways people interact with restaurants at their moments of intent, then they’re going to lose high intent traffic at the bottom of the funnel after spending (likely millions) on this campaign.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.