As technology has advanced in recent years, mobile has become an essential aspect of the marketing strategy of many companies. Through mobile marketing, it is possible for a company to reach consumers more directly and differentiate itself from the competition, allowing it to gain a competitive advantage. One dynamic company that is taking advantage of mobile marketing to gain a competitive advantage is IHOP (IHOP, 2018). One of the dynamic changes that the company has made has been to start supporting online ordering. In an age where people are increasingly strapped for time, traditionally sit-down restaurants like IHOP were facing the challenge of drawing in customers who might otherwise opt for the convenience of a fast food restaurant. With online ordering from IHOP, customers can get their food more quickly, without dedicating time to the full sit-down restaurant experience. Therefore, the decision to support online serves as an example of a way in which IHOP dynamically responded to changing consumer needs, ensuring it has remained competitive with other similar chain restaurants.
A particularly interesting mobile marketing technique that IHOP recently utilized was to use Twitter to generate public conversation about a potential name change. Unlike other companies, which generally use their Twitter accounts to post promotional content, IHOP posted a cryptic message, indicating that it had decided to change the restaurant’s name to iHOb, and that the meaning of the “b” would be revealed in several days (Monica, 2018). This was a highly creative way to make the topic “go viral” on social media, prompting people to spend the week arguing about what the new “b” would stand for. In the end, IHOP revealed that it would not be changing its name, but the social media campaign kicked off the introduction of burgers to the restaurant (Monica, 2018). Even after this was revealed, IHOP continued with the mobile campaign, retaining the @iHOb Twitter handle in order to continue to promote the new product (Monica, 2018). This campaign highlights the creativity of IHOP’s use of Twitter to generate public discussion and even media coverage of its products, both of which provide an edge over competitors.
Although the IHOP/IHOb marketing campaign was started on Twitter, IHOP has also established a strong presence on other social media channels, like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube (IHOP, 2018). This is consistent with the recognition of the importance of customer relations and communication in marketing (Kotler & Armstrong, 2018). As people spend more time on social media, IHOP has dynamically responded to the change in customer behavior by creating its own profiles to promote its content. By creating brand-specific content, IHOP has been able to influence customers’ perceptions of its brand and shape their expectations for the company (Kotler & Armstrong, 2018). Not only does a strong social media presence place IHOP (rather than its competitors) at the forefront of customers’ minds, but it also ensures that they are familiar with new products and limited time offers. Instead of having to go to the company’s website or into the restaurant to see menu choices, people are automatically exposed to the information as they scroll through their phones. In this way, mobile marketing gives IHOP a competitive advantage over other restaurants that have not invested in mobile marketing strategies focused on social media.
- Kotler, P.T., & Armstrong, G. (2018). Principles of marketing. 17th ed. Pearson Education.
- Menu + order. (2018). IHOP. Retrieved from https://www.ihop.com/en/menu
- Monica, P.R. L. (2018). IHOP reveals the mystery of IHOb. CNN. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/11/investing/ihob-ihop-burgers-name-change/index.html