Canadian Tire: Marketing more than just a Tire!

Jean-Francois Marquis    March 10, 2016

We’ve all seen one of those Canadian Tire flyers waiting for us at our doorstep… Did you know the retailer stopped distributing them two years ago? Yet, the company’s marketing team is busier than ever with digital advertisement. Facebook has become the company’s second biggest advertising platform after Google.

Why did Canadian Tire decided to invest in digital advertising?

The innovation journey

In 2013, the board of the Canadian retailer approves a 300 M$ investment on hi-tech computer system housed in Winnipeg (MB), a crucial financial investment towards developing their automated digital advertising activities.

“You should be able to get a screw driver or bag of salt delivered to your door as easily as you can order a pizza in 30 minutes – if that’s what our customer wants us to do,” – Stephen Wetmore, Former CEO, Canadian Tire

With this new technology they are now able to offer 90% of their product offering through online sales. Intelligent technology able to offer products based on external and seasonal factors such as the weather… for example, if it’s raining outside, the corporation’s digital ads will display rain gears.

The company sees its future through this omnichannel distribution supported by a whole range of professionals.

This is where the magic happens…

Part of Canadian Tire’s investment in technology went into building a top of the line Digital Garage. The mandate of the professionals working in the Digital Garage is based on research and development to take the customers’ experience to the next level.

This research and development process has marketing and advertising as a priority. Content is king in marketing, and Canadian Tire’s team knows it well… Famous social media influencer and speaker, Marsha Collier, said:

“Content-based marketing gets repeated in social media and increases word-of-mouth mentions; it’s the best way to gather buzz about a product.” – Marsha Collier

The Canadian retailer has adopted this approach to increase word-of-mouth mentions and to create a buzz around its products, like during winter 2013-2014 when one of their YouTube videos went viral and got 1.3 M views in a very short period of time. This video was created in their Digital Garage, a sort of test-and-learn laboratory located in the Kitchener/Waterloo region (ON), where the magic happens.

e-Canadian Tire money, really?

One reason, out of many reasons, why Canadian Tire’s customers liked their visit to the stores was for the infamous Canadian Tire money, which has proven to be a great way to win the loyalty of their clientele. The corporation has tried to come up with a solution to implement the concept of e-Canadian Tire money.

Based on the idea and principle of Bitcoin, an innovative online payment network based on a peer-to-peer experience, the e-Canadian Tire money is available through a branded app that offers exclusive rewards and offers.

Who knew the Canadian Tire money would go plastic one day? This corporate strategy is another step towards marketing on digital platforms and how companies must adapt to today’s market…

To know more on social media marketing, here is an interesting podcast from the Social Media Examiner:

Lessons for Others

One lesson I’ve learned when researching on Canadian Tire’s effort with social media marketing is that even the oldest, most established, brands must adapt to the digital world and the Internet of things.

Social media has become an imperative in corporate marketing, and more and more companies are joining the movement. Social media marketing allows reaching consumers 24/7, after shopping hours, in the comfort of their own homes.

One other thing I’ve learned is that social media marketing requires significant financial investment to be successful. Canadian Tire has implemented a great research and development process in a great technology-focussed environment in its Digital Garage, and we should not be surprised if we saw more companies embracing their ‘new’ business model.

Canadian Tire is marketing more than just a tire!

Organization: Canadian Tire
Industry: Online Retail
Name of Organization Contact: Eugene Roman, Chief Technology Officer, Canadian Tire Corporation

Authored by: Jean-Francois Marquis

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