Canadian Tire hopes to nail kitchenware category with private label

Canadian Tire might conjure up thoughts of, well, tires, along with other 'toys for boys' like drills and electric saws, but did you know that it also sells dishes and table linens?

Canadian Tire might conjure up thoughts of, well, tires, along with other ‘toys for boys’ like drills and electric saws, but did you know that it also sells dishes and table linens?

In an effort to carve a wider niche in the kitchenware category, the Toronto-based chain will formally launch its new Persona brand, encompassing appliances, linens, dishes and silverware, on Mother’s Day. Around the same time, a print magazine ad campaign from Toronto-based ad agency Doner Canada will introduce Persona and will reflect a ‘lifestyle,’ according to a spokesperson at the shop.

‘Canadian Tire is trying to broaden its spectrum,’ explains Rob Alexiou, VP of design at Oakville, Ont.-based Pigeon Branding + Design, which not only crafted the contemporary packaging for the private label, but also developed a brand visual language tool for the line. ‘The whole notion is to uplift the personification of Canadian Tire.’

The Persona work is the most comprehensive involvement in the creation of a brand for Pigeon to date, according to CEO Thomas Pigeon, because the visual language tool ‘defines the soul of the brand, which is about the lifestyle [of] active, engaged cooks who delight in the esthetics of their kitchen.

‘Other communications partners can take the brand visual language piece and make sure that whatever it is they’re doing to impact how people perceive Persona will be delivered in a very consistent and focused fashion.’

According to Alexiou, the objective was to design a modern label that is at the same time attainable. ‘[The] brand visual language included everything from Persona’s colour palette, shape, and texture, to what type of consumers would buy it, what their living rooms might look like, and what cars they would drive,’ he explains. ‘It almost became a brand manual for the buyers – they actually travelled with it.’

In order to craft a collection with longevity and credibility – ‘something that looks like it has been around that hasn’t been around in reality’ – the firm chose a ‘minimalist look with a European twist’ for Persona, as well as hues that are on the conservative side, including tranquil blues, greens, yellows and whites. ‘There are no vivid purples, or oranges,’ points out Alexiou. ‘Nothing too out there.’

Persona is geared at university students, young families or first-time home buyers. ‘The range is quite wide,’ says Alexiou who adds that the merchandise will be displayed with a boutique feel. ‘It’s for people who are aspirational, but don’t want to pay the huge dollars.’

Richard Talbot, a retail analyst with Unionville, Ont.-based Talbot Consultants, says the new label makes sense because it can help Canadian Tire gain ground in a category where it has had a disadvantage against competitors with their own private collections, like Sears and The Bay. ‘I think Canadian Tire has perceived a weakness there, and Persona is being introduced to counteract that.’

However, he adds that, in order to be successful, the retailer must be steadfast in its design and communications for the label. ‘Marketing is key to the whole thing, because you have to get the name out, and you also have to convey consistency in quality and price.’