After 57 years in business, Tim Hortons is giving people what they never knew they wanted: Timbiebs. Starting November 29, coffee lovers in Canada and the US can order three flavors of Justin Bieber-designed Timbits: White Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Chip Sour Cream, and Birthday Cake Waffle. They can also get a limited edition. Bieber x Tim Hortons merchandise, with Timbiebs branded fanny pack, tote bag and hat.
This is not Tims’ first attempt to attract younger customers. Since the investment firm bought the once loved brand 3G Capital in 2014—Who also operates Popeyes, Burger King and now Fire station subs Under the Restaurant Brands International company, he has been grappling with ways to attract a more modern coffee drinker, often at the expense of alienating existing customers.
In recent years, the company has also annoyed franchisees for the alleged misuse of the proceeds of advertising funds, has fought expand to the US and, perhaps most worrying of all for a public company, its revenue growth It has been lukewarm. In other words, Tim Hortons has been losing control of being Canada’s coffee darling.
Now, with the association with Bieber, the network appears to be doing its best to regain its popularity. While it is still too early to tell whether Bieber’s endorsement will attract new clients, the extensive media coverage has already been largely positive. Searching for #Timbiebs on Twitter generates endless tweets, and Bieber’s own Instagram has thousands of comments praising the collaboration. As a Canadian compatriot and Single star Kaitlyn Bristowe commented: We’re “sold out.”
Marketing False Steps
The stakes are high for this association. A 2018 Angus Reid poll found that one in three Tim Hortons customers He said his opinion of the chain was getting worse; has been online speculation that the taste of coffee has changed, while a 2020 Ipsos Reid Survey found that the company, once synonymous with Canada as hockey and snow, is less relevant today than before. More generally, consumers have criticized the company for straying from what it has always done best: selling double doubles, chocolate glazed donuts and a 12-pack of Timbits.
In 2019, Tim Horton added Beyond Meat to his menu, offering two breakfast sandwiches and a meat alternative wrap. While Mike Hancock, the company’s chief operating officer, said in a press release that Canadians were “hungry” to try the new menu items, that assessment seemed overly optimistic. Chain stopped offering Beyond Meat just a few months after launch.
That same year, Tim Hortons opened an “Innovation Café” in Toronto’s financial district, which he said was “a modern interpretation of the Tim Hortons brand and is a unique space to try out new menu items and technology initiatives.” There, downtown hipsters and wealthy bankers could sit at a posh bar and sip a cold mug of nitro-infused beer or 12 “Dream donuts, ”Like the crème brûlée donut, the caramel filled donut and the blueberry hibiscus donut. Closed in april 2021, which the company attributed to the pandemic.
In February 2020, perhaps in its worst offense, the company dared to change its Roll Up the Rim contest, a marketing effort that had actually been a huge success year after year since it was first launched. introduced in 1986, when the company’s co-founder, Ron Joyce, was still overseeing the business. in a offer to attract customers concerned about sustainability, Tims changed the show to a digital contest. What was once a simple ritual turned into a complicated in-app adventure and bonus game program. Customers weren’t happy and Ryerson University professor of marketing Joanne McNeish he described the move as “insane.”
Betting on Bieber
David Soberman, a professor of marketing at the Rotman School of Management, believes this partnership could produce much-needed success for Tim Hortons. “Justin Bieber is obviously one of the best-known Canadians in the world,” he says, noting that Tims may have learned from his past failures and is now leaning toward the classic Canadiana, rather than trying to compete with more restaurants. modern and global chains.
Timbiebs merchandise, which includes the old-school Tim Hortons logo, is another sign that the company is moving away from trying to chase new trends and back to its roots.
Soberman also believes that there is authenticity to the partnership, another factor that would bode well for its success. “I doubt Bieber would have lent his name if he didn’t like Timbits,” he says. “I suspect they are probably good, I should have eaten them.”
He believes that choosing a young celebrity like Bieber is smart. “Every time you run a restaurant chain, if you can attract younger people to your restaurants, they could become customers for decades,” says Soberman. Although, he points out that the company will also have to be careful about appealing to its inherited customer base of mostly older, hardworking Canadians. He wonders how many young people are Timbit shoppers, and says that people in that demo tend to be more health conscious, which can make old-school sugary treats less appealing, regardless of celebrity endorsements.
Approvals well done
Celebrity endorsements can be hit or miss, but other fast food chains have had success with musicians. In 2005, Destiny’s Child, which was one of the biggest acts at the time, helped put McDonald’s chicken salad in the spotlight, while Travis Scott’s food, a menu item designed by rapper Travis Scott in 2020, it was apparently a paste that restaurants were selling without ingredients.
And while this may be Tims’ first big foray into the music business, in October Restaurant Brands International recruited Megan Thee Stallion to develop “Hottie Sauce”, a new hot sauce for their Popeyes chains. The company also sale custom merchandising and Megan Thee Stallion is even becoming a franchisee of five new locations.
Can the Biebs help reverse the stagnation of the company’s fortunes and bring in the next generation of Tims lovers? Only time and taste will tell, but at least the new Timbits have a celebrity stamp of approval.
“Tims had never had a promotion with a popular music personality before,” says Soberman, “so at least they can learn from the experience.”