How Can IHOP Become an International House of Profit? Street Fight

How Can IHOP Become an International House of Profit?

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Fluffy pancakes are not the only thing being served at IHOP these days.

Formerly known as International House of Pancakes, the MULO (multi-location) brand, run by California-based Dine Brands Global, Inc., has about 1,800 restaurants worldwide, including outposts in all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and 13 countries outside the U.S. The parent company also owns Applebee’s and Fuzzy’s.

However, Dine Brands had a very weak first quarter and may soon join the companies that combine brands to increase efficiency and profits. For example, Focus Brands looks at co-located Auntie Anne’s and Jamba and contemplates a three-brand marriage—Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, and Carvel. Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky’s have more than 175 dual-branded locations and are expanding that number. Fat Brands is now running and expanding a combination of Fatburger and Round Table Pizza.

When revenues are flat as a pancake, and costs are rising like baking powder, holding companies and franchisors find that models like this may be the key to long-term survival and consumer satisfaction. After all, families and groups often disagree on food tastes, and being able to offer a variety of options under one roof can be a smart business decision.

What else is new at IHOP?

  • A movie-inspired menu. As we saw with the Barbie frenzy, a tie-in with a blockbuster can be a big hit — in theaters and on plates.
  • Limited-edition items like Sonic’s Blue Blur Special blueberry pancakes (in collaboration with the Sonic brand).
  • A pancake of the month.
  • Specialty beverages like the Pepsi Maple Syrup Cola Float.
  • The IHOPPY Hour, with special deals after 3 pm. After all, who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner sometimes?
  • Healthy meal options approved by dieticians.
  • Experimenting with virtual and sports-themed brands.

IHOP has also taken its loyalty program into the digital banking era, introducing Pancoins, the crypto of the pancake world.

The IHOP brand has existed since 1958 and, like many iconic brands, is committed to remaining relevant to generations of diners through menu innovations, media tie-ins, and deals with other popular brands.

In 2018, the brand briefly changed its name to IHOb (as in International House of Burgers) but quickly changed it back. Sometimes, a better strategy is sticking to a brand’s roots and simply innovating around it.

We’ll be watching carefully to see how Dine Brands moves will impact the IHOP brand and the performance of its sister companies.

Join us at Street Fight LIVE on November 7th, where you can learn how another iconic brand, Steak and Ale, founded in 1966, will again be sizzling.

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.