Sweet success due to warm 'n fuzzy message, not budget

Sweet success due to warm ‘n fuzzy message, not budget

I am responding to the article about the doughnut wars (Strategy April 22/02), and particularly to the ‘expert’ analysis from John Lee that followed it.

Lee suggests that Tim Hortons achieves success because it spends its way to it. No. The reason Enterprise has serviced the Tim Hortons business so well is because it has NEVER lost sight of what that brand promises to be to Canadians.

Tim Hortons is truly a Canadian icon. Why? They promise an honest, unpretentious experience, without glamour or glitz. Its communications always represent that, alongside an ‘Aw, shucks’ story that makes us happy to think that the Tim Hortons consumer might just be our neighbour next door. That’s part of Canadiana: We value the idea that no matter what you do, you have some shared experiences with your fellow citizen, be you a CEO or a cabinetmaker. Canadian Tire used to do this, but Tim Hortons still represents it.

No, it’s not ‘award-winning’ creative, but that’s not the point (find me 10 Haligonians or Kelownians outside the industry who’ve heard of the Marketing Awards). The campaigns are warm, fuzzy, and unassuming, and those are the companies that the average Canuck likes being associated with. Enterprise helps Tim Hortons sell a ton of coffee. Had you forgotten that’s the point, Mr. Lee?

Raymond Ludwin

Assistant planner

Garneau Würstlin Philp Brand Engineering

Toronto, Ont.

Doughnut comparisons probably not fair

Having worked over the years on both Tim Hortons and Country Style Doughnuts, I have a different take on the ‘doughnut wars’ and how or why some succeed where others fail.

I believe the success of Tim Hortons is directly attributable to single-minded focus, strong, uncompromising management (in the face of a franchisee system) and consistency. This combination allowed the company to grow in terms of the number of units through successful and mutually profitable franchise relationships, as well as grown in terms of product – franchisees, through their trust of the franchisor, have allowed the nature of their businesses to evolve over the years.

This level of trust was never established in either Coffee Time or Country Style. Coffee Time is a franchise based primarily on a real-estate formula. This possibly bodes well for the franchisor, but probably not so well for the franchisees. In any case, the focus is on the lease agreement, not the customer. Country Style missed its initial potential as an urban doughnut chain (as opposed to Tim’s strictly ex-urban and small community strategy of that time). This boat having been missed, Country Style could never achieve the critical mass to build a network, never mind a brand.

The real success of Tim Hortons extends considerably deeper than any discussion of advertising or branding can encompass. Through consistency of policy and philosophy, a strong sense of prevailing values and a firm belief in the real worth of the people of the communities it served, the company has become inextricably woven into the fabric of Canada’s social fabric.

This makes it an iconic brand. They are probably one of a very small number of companies that can make that claim. As a word of caution, though, Eatons was once one of those companies!

Tim Hortons has relied very little on ‘brand’ communication, and very much on product and promotional messaging. That the messages were consistently packaged was nice, but that the products were consistently delivered mattered most.

‘Roll Up the Rim’ for all its touted brilliance, is different from 100,000 failed promotions only in the fact that Tim Hortons stuck with it.

Krispy Kreme may become a great brand in Canada – it won’t do it in five or 10 years, but if it does what it did in the U.S., it will probably be a part of our communal psyche at some point. But this says less about Tim Hortons or any other chain than it does about a differentiated PRODUCT consistently and relevantly delivered.

At the end of the day, your comparisons are probably not fair – the three companies you mention are all in different businesses: Tim is in the franchising business; Coffee Time is in the real-estate arbitrage business and Country Style thinks (thought) it was in the doughnut business.

Laurence Bernstein

Managing partner

Bay Charles Consulting Company

Toronto, Ont.

Doughnut wars secret (unused) weapon: speed

I enjoyed the article on ‘Doughnut Wars.’ This has been a topic of discussion with my colleagues over the last few months. I thought I would share my perspective…err, my doughnut diatribe.

Tim Hortons owns the market. We all recognize that the company has huge market share, brand recognition and customer loyalty. So how does Country Style or newcomer Krispy Kreme grab market from the Monolith of Java?

Krispy Kreme already has the brand and the plan, whether it will be effective in the Canadian market has yet to be seen. Country Style, on the other hand, lacks branding and direction. Country Style’s brand is ‘one of the other coffee shops’ and marketing campaigns like ‘Turn Up a Winner’ lack… well, everything. The tried-and-not-so-true, follow-the-leader strategy won’t drive the customer numbers that the company needs to gain on its much larger and more successful competitor.

Timmy has grown big in the last five years, and because of this growth, therein lies the opportunity for Country Style to steal market share.

If you’ve ever stood in long lines at Tim Hortons or waited five minutes in the drive-through to get a coffee, it can seem somewhat incredulous to do so just to get your morning caffeine hit. Tim Hortons has far too many product offerings – the guy in front of you has just ordered three bagels, one toasted, just butter; one not toasted, light cream cheese; and the other toasted with butter and regular cream cheese. Those kinds of orders increase wait times dramatically.

That is where Country Style can beat Tim Hortons: FASTER IS BETTER! If I can get in and out of Country Style with three minutes less time spent in line, they have my business. The first doughnut chain to market, and effectively execute, the Express Drive-Through will win a major battle in the Doughnut Wars.

How do they do it?

* Limit product offerings to doughnuts and coffee, not a dozen doughnuts and a coffee. People can get out of their cars and go into the store if they want to pick out their dozen doughnuts.

* Train staff to efficiently process orders. Under one minute from the time you order to the time you drive away.

* Market the hell out of the Express Drive-Through, with something catchy like, ‘Gone in 60 seconds.’

* Use a huge countdown clock in the drive-through so customers know how long they are in line and reassure them that you are keeping to your under-a-minute promise. The consumer will react, guaranteed.

The concept is simple: if you tell people you are faster, people will believe it. The express brand will cause a spillover effect with in-store sales as well.

At the end of the day, nobody is going to take ownership of the market from Tim Hortons. But there is room to drive the thin edge of the wedge and take a piece of the pie. Pie? Hmmm it can only be a matter of time….

Matthew Massey

Acart Communications

Ottawa, Ont.