Canadian Tire tries to pop in the pet category

A campaign featuring 3D billboards comes as the retailer's Q3 results show supply chain pressure impacting otherwise positive sales.
2021.11.08 Yonge & Dundas - Canadian Tire - 3D Pet Food

Canadian Tire is trying to earn a bigger share of the bowl by promoting its premium pet offerings in a big way, with what it says is the country’s first 3D OOH billboard.

Until December 5, the 3D boards will show immersive, depth perception-altering scenes of a dog playing with a ball and a cat pawing at a bowl, in Toronto’s Yonge Dundas Square and Union Station.

Branded Cities’ DreamRoom 3D uses proprietary tech that lets brands create an immersive world within their ad. “We’ve been following the 3D trends from Asia and Europe and jumped at the chance to bring that unique and interactive spin to our OOH experience,” says Natalya Lukie, AVP of strategic marketing at Canadian Tire Corporation.

Physical activations will surround the 3D billboards in the form of a giant bowl of cat food and ball, accompanied by brand ambassadors touting a contest to Black Friday shoppers. Other boards around the 3D ones will show off the breadth of pet products Canadian Tire offers, and scented wild postings will be installed near dog parks in Toronto and Montreal to draw the attention of canines in their favourite environment.

All of this is part of a big push to make Canadian Tire a bigger destination for pet owners.

“While we’re a well-known destination for our automotive, kitchen, DIY and seasonal assortments, many people don’t know that we have a substantive pet care offering too,” says Lukie.

“We’ve made a concerted effort over the past few years to build out a wider assortment of food, treats, toys and accessories and high-quality brands to be competitive in this space and better equip our customers and their families,” Lukie says, adding that the retailer sees the biggest potential in connecting with that group and millennials who are driving a big percentage of the category growth.

She tells strategy the pet category reaches a broad range of Canadians, with six in 10 having a pet at home. She adds that the pandemic has resulted in an uptick in pet ownership, with 28% of Canadians indicating that they have adopted during the last year, according to a 2021 Survey of Canadian Pet Parents by Canadian Tire and the OSPCA.

The program, part of a bigger national omnichannel pet campaign scheduled for the fall, was developed in partnership with Canadian Tire by Touché (media), Taxi (creative) and Grassroots (wild postings and contesting).

It also included Canadian Tire’s inaugural pet award show, ‘The Zoomies’, presented in October in partnership with Ontario SPCA and Humane Society International, a virtual event where participants submitted their favourite videos or images of pets to win prizes, co-hosted by Canadian Tire pitchman “Gary.”

The Canadian Tire Corporation has been better able than many other retails to weather the challenges of the pandemic, something that has continued according to its Q3 results, released this morning.

Comparable sales at Canadian Tire stores were up 1.4% year-over-year against a strong 2020 baseline, as Canadian Tire was allowed to remain open as an essential retailer in many jurisdictions. Backyard living, gardening and hockey were the top performing business lines.

Meanwhile, comparable sales also grew by 11.2% at Sport Chek and 7.9% at Mark’s as demand for their selections normalized. Across business lines, ecommerce sales were $257 million in Q3, and the company has now surpassed $2.1 billion on a rolling 12-month basis.

In this morning’s conference call, Greg Hicks, president and CEO, said that the Triangle Rewards program has been a key driver of topline performance, as loyalty sales accounted for 57% of retail sales for Q3. 

The loyalty program now has 10.7 million members, with over 680,000 new members joining in the latest quarter, and Hicks says it is “clearly attracting younger, more digitally engaged” consumers.

The group is also valuable, Hicks notes, as their average basket size is higher, and they shop across multiple banners.

Despite the positive sales figures, Canadian Tire reported a 6.2% decline in revenue, excluding fuel sales, in its retail segment, citing a decline in shipments to Canadian Tire dealers.

While this points to the same supply chain issues other retailers have faced, Hicks said that the company was better able to handle the pressures than companies in the grocery or fashion business, as it can be more flexible in its stock and hold items back from quarter-to-quarter.