Honeydew pegs future on U.S. sales

Everyone's heard the clichés before. 'We're living today in a world without borders.' 'There is no such thing as a Canadian company anymore.' 'The whole world is our marketplace now.' But what, exactly, does all of this mean in terms of...

Everyone’s heard the clichés before.

‘We’re living today in a world without borders.’ ‘There is no such thing as a Canadian company anymore.’ ‘The whole world is our marketplace now.’

But what, exactly, does all of this mean in terms of concrete, day-to-day reality? What do Canadian firms go through in the effort to market their products and services internationally? How do they build brands on a global basis? What are the challenges – and the rewards?

For this special report, Strategy’s writers profile the global marketing activities of several noteworthy Canadian companies.

For Honeydew Canada, the international marketplace tastes very sweet indeed.

Four years ago, the Mississauga, Ont.-based juice company took a long, hard look at the Canadian market, and concluded that growth opportunities were limited here. So the 78-year-old firm began to turn its attention south of the border.

Today, there’s no question that Honeydew’s future lies stateside, says Stu Funnell, the company’s president and part owner.

Honeydew began exporting its frozen fruit juice blends to the U.S. in 1996, with considerable success. American sales now represent close to 50% of the company’s revenues – and this despite aggressive competition from the likes of Coca-Cola-owned Minute Maid and Cadbury Schweppes-owned Welch’s (not to mention the general decline of the US$1.2 billion North American frozen fruit juice category).

Made with pure fruit juices and natural honey – a major selling point in the U.S. market, Funnell says – Honeydew’s products come in nine flavours, including Mango Passion Papaya, Strawberry Kiwi and Grape Blueberry.

Distribution is primarily in the central and eastern U.S., where the product is sold through such chains as Shaws, Price Chopper, A&P and Sam’s Club.

While the western states offer a tempting target – and the company does currently ship into Phoenix, Ariz. and Salt Lake City, Utah – Funnell says most of Honeydew’s efforts will be concentrated in the east for the time being.

‘Our objective, before we go crazy in the U.S., is to solidify the brand east of the Mississippi,’ he says. ‘Once that’s done, then we’ll move west.’

To strengthen the brand and help distinguish it from rivals, Honeydew repackaged its juices last year, adding vibrant stripes to the containers, enhancing the imagery and updating the 78-year-old honeybee icon. A new pull-ring feature, designed to make the lid easier to remove, was also added to the packaging for the U.S. market.

Toronto-based Wolf Group works with Honeydew on advertising and marketing for both the U.S. and Canadian markets. In-store materials such as shelf danglers and point-of-sale displays, Funnell says, are key promotional vehicles. The company has also run sweepstakes programs on its Web site (www.hdew.com) to help build customer relationships and generate feedback.

‘We’re not a huge company like McCain or Minute Maid,’ Funnell says. ‘We don’t have the kinds of funds they do, so we have to become much more tactical and street-smart about the way we spend money.’

While the move into the American market has been a relatively smooth process, Honeydew has encountered certain obstacles along the way.

U.S. regulations, for example, impose a whole different set of packaging requirements involving ingredient lists and nutrition guides, forcing Honeydew to create new packaging for the American market. The company now has two separate inventories – one for the U.S., and one for Canada.

Also in this report:

- Tim Hortons issues wakeup call: Builds underdeveloped breakfast category p.25

- Faces adapts to local market: Cosmetics retailer leverages awareness of cultural differences p.25

- Buckley’s takes bad taste message abroad: Cough syrup marketer making steady inroads in U.S. and overseas p.27

- Great Canadian Bagel makes slow but sure gains in Moscow p.27

- Southbrook Farms and Winery proves its worth abroad: Ontario winemaker uses foreign success to boost sales at home p.28

- Seagull Pewter sells at shows: Family-run giftware operation does business in over 20 territories p.28

- Clearly Canadian launches in U.S. first p.28

Corner Officer Shifts: Martin Fecko leaves Tangerine

Plus, PointsBet Canada and Thinkific name new marketing leaders as Lole gets a new ecommerce VP.
Corner Office

Martin Fecko departs Tangerine 

After roughly two years of serving as Tangerine’s chief marketing officer, Martin Fecko has a new gig. And this time, the financial services vet will apply his marketing leadership to a new sector, having been named CMO of Dentalcorp.

Fecko will lead the dental network’s end-to-end patient journey, support its overall growth, and work to maximize patient experiences across every touchpoint, the company said in a release.

“Martin’s in-depth expertise in engaging and retaining customers through a digitally enabled experience will be valuable in realizing our vision to be Canada’s most trusted healthcare network,” said Dentalcorp president Guy Amini.

Prior to joining Scotiabank’s digital-only banking brand in late-2019, Fecko was country manager for Intuit Canada and spent 10 years at American Express in consumer and digital marketing.

PointsBet Canada nabs former Bell marketer as it pursues expansion

Dave Rivers has joined PointsBet, an online gaming and sports betting operator, as Canadian VP of marketing.

Rivers joins from Bell, where he was most recently director of brand marketing and sponsorship, responsible for driving the company’s national sponsorship strategy and portfolio. He will report to PointsBet Canada chief commercial officer Nic Sulsky.

According to Sulsky, Rivers will “play a key role as we prepare to launch a business that is unique to our roots here in Canada.”

PointsBet has a significant presence in Australia, where it was founded, and in the U.S. In July, it named Scott Vanderwel, a former SVP at Rogers, as CEO of its Canadian subsidiary, one of several hires aimed at establishing the company’s presence locally.

Thinkific names first CMO among other executive appointments

Vancouver’s Thinkific, a platform for creating, marketing and selling online courses, has appointed Henk Campher as its first chief marketing officer as it invests in marketing to support its growth plans. It has also upped Chris McGuire to the role of chief technology officer and moved former CTO and co-founder Matt Payne into the new role of SVP of innovation.

Co-founder and CEO Greg Smith said Campher and McGuire “will play key roles building high-functioning teams around them and optimizing investment as we continue to carve out an increasingly prominent and differentiated position in the global market.”

Campher joins from Hootsuite, where he was VP of corporate marketing. Before that, he was VP of brand and communications at CRM giant Salesforce.

Lolë names new VP of digital omni-commerce as parent company exits bankruptcy protection

The Montreal-based athletic apparel and accessories retailer has appointed Rob French as VP of digital omni-commerce.

French will lead Lolë’s efforts in consumer insights, supply chain-to-consumer models and online customer journeys. In what is a new role for the company, he will also work to grow the company’s retail brand. He arrives with sixteen years experience in ecommerce, having spent the last few years as chief digital commerce officer at sporting goods retailer Decathlon.

In May 2020, Lolë parent Coalision Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection, citing several years of losses as a result of a downturn in the retail clothing market, increased competition and excess inventory – problems exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of the filing, Coalision was seeking an investor or purchaser of its assets.

It successfully exited bankruptcy protection last year and is currently rebuilding its executive team, according to a spokesperson.