TSC gets with the times

Today's Shopping Choice adopted seven social and eco values that will dictate everything that appears on its channels.

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By Will Novosedlik

TSC isn’t just your mom’s shopping channel anymore. Today it’s more like your sister’s, or maybe even your brother’s.

The company used to provide a pretty simple customer journey: turn on the TV, watch product presentations, call in your order, receive the goods. But by 2017, with e-commerce sales on the rise, the journey had grown a few more arms and legs. At the time, online sales had grown to 50% of its revenue.

However, as often happens, this shift was not reflected in the brand image. The Shopping Channel was still perceived as a cable TV channel. To change that, TSC found a new name – Today’s Shopping Choice – allowing it to stretch across as many new channels and platforms as it needs to.

That was the first step in its brand transformation. By 2021, non-TV channels were responsible for 71% of sales. TSC was now connecting with customers through a comprehensive e-commerce platform, a mobile app, social channels, and live-stream shopping events in addition to its television programs.

With the volume shifting to digital, changes in the customer base became evident. TSC was seeing a younger, more diverse demographic emerge. New customers are two times as likely to be under 44 years of age than core customers, and one in four new customers are male.

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Lauren Jankowski, director of marketing at TSC, tells strategy about how the customer journey has evolved. “The shape of engagement has really changed. Take our Facebook live events, for instance. Customers will do a beauty tutorial with us where they can engage with a host directly for a dialogue about the brand,” says Jankowski.

“They’ll talk to us on social channels in different ways, or in live-streamed selling events that may not be hosted on social but still allow you to have that direct conversation. We’ll see them on our mobile app, as well as on the website. There will be more platforms, like TikTok for instance, and as they emerge we will evolve with them.”

The world beyond retail has also changed in the last five years. The pandemic has radically altered shopping habits. Diversity and inclusion are table stakes. And the climate crisis is driving customer expectations around corporate environmental and social governance. Recognizing that a brand transformation is more than just a name change, TSC recently committed itself to a set of seven values that include: buying Canadian, equity for all, going green, body inclusivity, growing companies, smart solutions and giving back.

Leveraging its 35th anniversary this year, TSC used the occasion to launch the rebrand under the campaign tagline, “Let’s Shop Better.” The campaign’s anthem spot touches on three of its seven core values: buying Canadian, supporting women-owned businesses, and sourcing ethically and environmentally friendly products.

TSC’s commitment to diversity is clearly reflected in both the models and vendors they work with. Different ages, sizes and ethnicities are well-represented across channels. They are also using the “Let’s Shop Better” campaign to spotlight carbon-conscious vendors. An example is TAMGA Designs, a Canadian fashion house that is fighting the deforestation of Indonesia, where old growth is clear-cut to produce rayon, otherwise known as viscose. The owners of TAMGA found a provider of fibre produced from sustainably grown eucalyptus and beechwood trees, which uses a closed loop system to spin it into premium micro-tensile fabric.

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“We actually have our values in our contracts with vendors so they can tick off the boxes that demonstrate that they are acting in alignment with our ESG goals,” says Helena Yoon, director, creative for Rogers Sports and Media. According to Yoon, TSC prefers to use the term “going green” as opposed to sustainability or eco-friendly, in recognition of the fact that every vendor is at a different place on the path to zero carbon.

“There are brands out there that are not yet 100% sustainable but are trying their best to source green ingredients and reduce their carbon footprint,” adds Yoon. “So as long as they match certain criteria that our legal team has set out, then we categorize them as ‘going green’ and make sure that they’re following through. Our goal is that within a few years every vendor can commit to at least one of the seven core values. You are not going to get to zero carbon in one day.”

As a Rogers asset, TSC has been able to partner with OMNI, allowing it to launch its TV spots in seven different languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Punjabi, Arabic, Italian and Portuguese. More languages are planned.

Even with so much of the platform already underway, “Let’s Shop Better” message is still in its infancy for TSC. “To be very honest, we just launched the seven values on our site in the last couple of months,” says Yoon. “We want to provide different ways that consumers can buy consciously because we know it’s becoming more and more important to them. They want to feel good about what they’re buying and where they buy it from.”