December 2, 2002
.Turning Up a Winner?
By Sarah Dobson
Style, for many years an also-ran in the donut sweepstakes,
is now firing on all cylinders with aggressive new promotions
its troubled history, Country Style Food Services is a Canadian
chain in need of a rescuer with a "save the world"
a tall order, but Patrick Gibbons is rooting to be just
such a hero. He landed at the Richmond Hill, Ont.-based
chain as president just over a year ago, ready for a challenge.
And he was not disappointed. After 40 years in business,
Country Style has suffered from stale food offerings, tired
interiors and stores still standing well beyond their expiry
date. Once a leader in the Canadian coffee-and-donut concept,
the chain has fallen to a very distant number two behind-you
guessed it-Tim Hortons.
for the changes Gibbons has put in place over the past year,
industry analysts like what they see so far, but are cautious.
Any kind of awareness generated around the brand is a good
idea if at the same time it also generates traffic, says
Neville Pokroy, president of Stantech Marketing,
a marketing consulting company in Vaughan, Ont. But he does
caution Country Style against overspending on its promotions
with hopes of increasing market share.
while Country Style says it was the first to run a cup promotion
decades ago, the perception in the marketplace is what counts,
says Pokroy. "Tim Hortons has done it a lot
more successfully and with a much higher profile. At the
end of the day, they're going to own that property, and
it really does make Country Style look like a copycat, and
a bit tired."
fact, Pokroy says he wouldn't be surprised if consumers
"fleetingly" hear of the "Turn Up a Winner"
promotion and assume it's for Tim Hortons. "That's
the biggest danger," he says. "People are so bombarded
by advertising messages, they don't always pick up on the
fine detail. For the majority of Canadian coffee drinkers
who go into retail stores, that's a Tim Hortons promotion.
To run a promotion that's as similar as that, to me, is
not a good marketing strategy."
Whelan-Molly, vice-president of advertising and merchandising
at Tim Hortons, agrees that consumer perception of promotions
is an important factor. "That's where it does get a
little cloudy and we have to make sure we communicate that
as effectively as we can," she says. "If you look
at what we're doing, it's a lot different than our competitors."
Tim Hortons watches the competition to see what they are
doing, not to copy what they are doing, she says, adding
that "Roll Up the Rim to Win" is an actual contest
with value prizes as opposed to discounts.
says "Turn Up a Winner" has been an annual event
for 20-odd years. "I know people think we're copying
when in fact we're the originators of the (cup) promotion,
but it's so long ago, people forget that."
only so much you can do, he adds. "You tend to need
to use the cup as a vehicle to communicate the offering."
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