Why Risk Isn’t Always Bad – IHOP vs. IHOB
12 Jun 2018
Provoke Insights was quoted in an article in NBC yesterday — you can check it out here. The article discusses International House of Pancakes (IHOP) decision to rebrand as IHOb — International House of Burgers. The temporary name change shows that the restaurant is serious about its burgers not just its pancakes.  

Carly Fink, the principal and the head of research and strategy at Provoke Insights, was asked what she thought of the famous breakfast chain’s strategic move. She noted that it is risky. However, risk can have both positive and negative results. Risk is not necessarily a bad thing; it can often pay off!

A name change is a major shift in a marketing strategy. IHOP is one of the top names that consumers think about when they think about breakfast. Changing the name will impact this perspective and result in consumers’ association shifting away from breakfast and to lunch/dinner instead. The key here is to avoid losing its association with breakfast.

IHOP has been trying to increase sales for lunch and dinner for some time for many reasons, one of which is because a restaurant can often charge more for meals later in the day. We can be sure that IHOP marketing team spent a lot of time weighing the pros and cons of changing the brand name for this marketing initiative. One way this risk can pay off is by causing controversy. There is value in controversy – it gets people talking. This has proven true for the IHOP strategy, as it has already caused a huge stir on Twitter, with Burger King changing their name to Pancake King and other burger vertical leaders commenting on the name change. The initiative has been somewhat successful, with an influx in press and chatter very visible.

There is a need to be careful. Acronyms can cause complication. Acronyms are often engrained in people’s memories and consumers find it difficult to stop using old ones. It is important to conduct research in order to determine if the name change will cause confusion among consumers. Will people be aware that the chain still sells pancakes? How else, besides the acronym, will IHOP promote burgers? It will be key to see how their advertising focus, such as its television commercials, changes in the following months. If ad spend is less focused on breakfast would this impact the brand overall equity?

It is also important to remember that this is a global brand, and as such, each market/country may react differently.

The burger market is very saturated. Entering the direct competition with the burger industry will be difficult as IHOP is not known as the king of this vertical and there are many brands competing for the crown.

The risk may pay off, though. A name change could help their positioning. People might start to think of IHOP when they think about lunch and dinner. The key when a brand is changing their name or acronym is to conduct thorough research about their consumer, the brand, and their advertising initiatives to make sure no wrong turn is taken! Will the name change really move the needle? Or will this simply take away from breakfast spending, resulting in loss of revenue? Check out more about naming research on the Provoke Insights blog.

Marketing in the Summer
05 Jun 2018

Like many industries, advertising is notoriously slow in the summer season. However, there are also plenty of seasonally specific opportunities to take advantage of for advertisers across a number of categories. In many parts of America, summer is the only season that affords a real chance to get outside; consumers enjoy the beach, sporting events, water parks, summer camps, vacations, and a generally more relaxed few months. Summer is also associated with fun foods, socializing, and a cheery attitude.

So, how is a summer audience different than one in other seasons? How can you incorporate seasonality into your advertising strategy? The key lies in the features of the season.

Summer sunshine means getting out of the house. It brings to mind barbecues and the pool or beach. June through August is all about spending time in the open air and participating in leisure activities. As such, out-of-home advertising is a natural fit – billboards, videos, flyers, and other media at concerts, fairs, movie theaters, airports, water parks, and sporting events are hugely effective, especially when they are advertising goods or services that are directly related to the location. Radio is also can be a great opportunity, as consumers more often take road trips. The lighthearted nature of summer also calls for fun television and print campaigns with strong creative appeal. In addition, there are plenty of opportunities around holidays and events that pertain to families as much as they do to individuals, including Graduation, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Flag Day, Summer Solstice, LGBT Pride Month, Fourth of July, Back to School, and Labor Day.

Particularly for retailers, summer marketing is a time to test out new and different methods, according to Forbes. Businesses can try various communications and execution tactics like expressing appreciation to customers in email campaigns (as opposed to promotion alone), partnering with businesses to promote complementary products or collaborations, introducing limited edition lines, sending out seasonal “swag” like t-shirts and ice coffee cups, pushing loyalty programs that incentivize sales during a typically slow period, or opening up pop-up stands or store locations at some of the aforementioned summer-friendly venues.

Keep in mind the various demographics and segments that can be addressed when thinking of these summer events. Graduation is all about students; these days, this means every school-ending ceremony from kindergarten through college and beyond. Independence Day brings to mind family cookouts, but it is also a day for adult beverage consumption, namely beer and related spirits. Many of these events conjure parties, parades, and ceremonies, all of which require planning, supplies, furniture, technology, food and beverage. Even industries that do not seem directly related to warm weather can likely be pegged to one of a few broader summer events.

Finally, summer is also a great time to catch up on future advertising plans, spruce up your business plan, update your website, or improve your SEO tactics. Instead of viewing summer as down time, use it as a time to strategize. It is crucial for advertisers to use these months as an opportunity to conduct competitive research, build better business infrastructure, develop your marketing plan, and gain as many potential leads as possible in order to boost performance during other seasons.