IHOP is taking an influencer-led approach to touting its first loyalty program. Prioritizing social media and creators suggests the chain is trying to reach a younger crowd of consumers that have drifted away from casual dine-in experiences.
Cryptocurrencies, the obvious point of reference for PanCoins, have also seen steadier traction with groups like millennials and Gen Zers that are more receptive to digital banking and personal finance.
Notably, PanCoins aren’t a cryptocurrency based on the blockchain. Instead, they represent a “digitized” pancake, where one coin carries the value of a single real-world flapjack. Spending $5 at IHOP earns a PanCoin, and three coins can be traded in for a short stack of pancakes. Acquiring more coins unlocks further rewards on the “Stack Market,” while customers who sign up for the loyalty program can access other perks like free pancakes on their birthday, secret menu offerings and the ability to pay from the IHOP mobile app.
IHOP joins a number of restaurant chains that are putting a fresh focus on mobile channels and loyalty at a transitional point for the industry. The pandemic has accelerated consumer adoption of mobile and digital ordering, pushing brands in the category to reassess their marketing, operations and even store designs.
Tonally, IHOP’s ads and pick of ambassadors for the International Bank of Pancakes skew toward a sense of optimism and joy – a sign that the brand wants to capitalize on some of the enthusiasm that’s bubbled up COVID-19 restrictions loosen around the country. The company is refreshing its creative strategy in substantial ways.