Peachtree invests in brand-building

In a bid to broaden its market beyond Web-heads, The Peachtree Network, an online grocery portal that operates in 16 markets across Canada and the U.S., will spend $800,000 in the year ahead to build its brand. Flush with cash from...

In a bid to broaden its market beyond Web-heads, The Peachtree Network, an online grocery portal that operates in 16 markets across Canada and the U.S., will spend $800,000 in the year ahead to build its brand.

Flush with cash from its recent initial public offering, the Montreal-based company ( is ramping up its promotional strategy and will spend at least $400,000 on a national branding campaign to launch in April.

‘There are new customers coming online, times are changing and we’re after growth,’ explains Robert MacKalski, Peachtree’s vice-president of marketing. ‘Obviously, we have the ability to start spending money in this way and we understand the consumer a lot more.’

Beginning in April, Peachtree will test three different direct mail and billboard approaches in the Vancouver market. The strategy, developed by Toronto’s Beakbane Marketing, will allow the cybergrocer to tweak the media mix and creative based on results on the West Coast before rolling the ads out nationally.

Peachtree is currently fine-tuning its strategies to reflect lessons learned from market research. The goal is to better understand who shops online and why, so that the company can grab a bigger chunk of Canada’s $55-billion grocery market.

‘Traditionally we segmented (the market) in three ways: busy people, people with mobility difficulties, and nerds,’ says MacKalski. ‘When we looked at the busy people, there are different reasons people are shopping online and we’re in the process right now of doing a lifestyle segmentation.’

That segmentation is telling the company, for instance, that people in Vancouver are more likely to try online shopping for positive reasons – like buying time to spend with their kids – than Torontonians, who want to avoid negatives, like dinged cars and long lineups. The company plans to adjust its advertising in each market to reflect these differences.

In recent months, Peachtree has been forging online marketing alliances as well, with Canadian Internet portals including and Sympatico. Peachtree has an exclusivity agreement with, making it the official online grocer of the Southam-owned Internet site and giving its logo exposure in the portal’s current national newspaper ads.

Once the darlings of the dot-com world, online grocers have been struggling to capture a significant offline customer base. Poor results have begun to plague American cybergrocers, most visibly with Peapod, whose troubles have prompted its directors to consider selling the company.

Obviously, Peachtree doesn’t want to meet the same fate, so it has been putting a heavier emphasis on customer research. It is also experimenting with new channels through which to get the attention of the elusive consumer.

Peachtree is testing cross-promotion waters in order to reach an offline audience. In a deal with Dish It Out, a cooking show on Life Network, the show’s featured recipes will be posted on Peachtree’s Web site. With the click of a mouse, the ingredients will be in a consumer’s virtual shopping cart.

The next year will also see Peachtree expanding rapidly, filling in Canadian market gaps like Calgary and launching in more American markets. Since launching first in Winnipeg in 1996, the company has partnered with local grocers in markets such as Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal and St. John’s, as well as Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Chicago and Oklahoma City, to provide fulfillment.

Being first to market lies at the core of the company’s strategy, says MacKalski, who notes that a new partnership with upscale Toronto grocer Sun Valley Foods will allow the company to compete aggressively in the country’s largest market.

In Quebec, Sobeys-owned IGA has launched its own online system, called Cybermarket, which serves as the online option for 153 of the company’s stores. Cybermarket has focused on making its service an alternative distribution channel for existing IGA customers, says project leader Alain Dumas.

Cybermarket is promoted through various in-store devices, including leaflets, window stickers, and mentions in weekly advertising flyers. The company has also sent out a leaflet promoting its business-to-business Cybermarket service to more than 17,000 prospects in Quebec.

Cybermarket plans to refine its system in Quebec before rolling it out to IGA stores in Ontario and then to Sobeys in the Maritimes.

With no plans to expand geographically, Grocery Gateway, Peachtree’s most direct competitor, is focusing on ‘getting it right’ in Toronto. The company’s central fulfillment centre will allow it to better serve its customers and that, says John Moses, Grocery Gateway’s vice-president of marketing, will let the company grow.

In January, Grocery Gateway kicked off what was supposed to be a multi-million-dollar campaign designed by Toronto ad shop Garneau Wurstlin Philp Brand Engineering. However, Moses says consumer demand was so strong that the company pulled the plug after only five ads ran in The Toronto Star and The Toronto Sun newspapers for fear it couldn’t keep up with demand.

‘The consumer response was tremendous,’ says Moses. ‘We got as many registrations in two days in January as we did in the entire month of December.’

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.