Happy National Pancake Day – Evaluation of the “Holiday” and IHOP’s Marketing Approach
Perhaps your social media newsfeed is flowing with #NationalPancakeDay updates. Last night might have been breakfast for dinner kind of night to honor such a holiday. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, it is interesting to review the history of the holiday and evaluate IHOP’s marketing approach to sharing the love of pancakes and social responsibility.
Background: This “holiday” started in 2006. IHOP’s celebration of the National Pancake Day provides the community and customers to enjoy a stack of 3 buttermilk pancakes. People from all over get to enjoy free pancakes. Although the pancakes are free to eat, it is encouraged for patrons to donate to the Children’s Miracle Network or another local designated charity. Since 2006, IHOP have helped raise over $16Million dollars for charities and has a $3.5 Million goal for today. Whether you choose to celebrate National Pancake Day at a local IHOP or you kicking up some of your awesome pancake recipes at home. It is delightful to participate and share the love for pancakes and charities (for those that participate in the giving back side option at IHOP or independently).
Marketing Approach: National Pancake Day brings pancake lovers out of the woodwork to eat pancakes with a grin bigger than the state of Montana. The energy and love associated with pancakes for some is a big deal. For others, it is a lame made up holiday. Wherever you sit on that opinion fence, the choice is yours to participate. More than likely, whichever side you sit on that fence, you’re not going to be grumpy enjoying a delightful stack of pancakes and you'll probably have a fun customer experience. Relax and enjoy the process. Enjoy watching others gather and enjoy pancakes at your local IHOP. Watch the body language of patrons that are encouraged to donate to a charity. Some will graciously donate, others may jet and not want to donate, but just wanted to the free short stack of buttermilk pancakes. Included here lies the marketing approach associated with National Pancake Day. IHOP can share its speciality with consumers, show their care toward social responsibility via donating the proceeds to designated charities, and share that experience with consumers. This approach is a win-win situation as it provides awareness, engagement, and empowerment for action. In either situation, whether a consumer donates or not he or she is part of the experience. Consumers can share in the excitement of a free pancakes and choose to give to a worthy cause. The theme is simply sharing the love of pancakes, community, and social responsibility.
Lessons Learned: Social responsibility is a great business practice.It is a practice that requires action. Direct, indirect, open or anonymous action can create a great belongingness between consumers, community members, employees, and stakeholders. Social responsibility causes and actions, such as the National Pancake Day at IHOP provides the organization with the opportunity to share the love of what they do with causes they care about within the community. This free pancake event helps to remind those that experience the event that humility and giving back to worthy causes is not only the right thing to do, but it is a good business decision.
Food for thought or should I say pancakes for thought: IHOP's National Free Pancake Day Fundraiser serves a great example of implementing CSR practices within your firm. Are there themes that tie into the products or services that your firm provides that you could link to a social cause? What perspective would such contributions to that social cause have to your prospective and end users? Would your clients or customers see you and your business in more desirable light?
Did get your pancake day celebrations on – whether at home or IHOP?
by Katie Doseck, PhD MBA
Chief Visionary and Strategic Ace Up Your Sleeve | Viral Solutions LLC