Tim Hortons Announces $80 Million Digital Investment

The cafe chain is focusing on its digital loyalty program, Tims Rewards, with the new investment.

Need to Know

  • As part of its Back to Basics plan, Tim Hortons will make substantial investments in its loyalty program, the Tims Rewards program, and mobile app.
  • Tim Hortons president Axel Schwan said the new investments will provide customers with a “best in class digital guest experience.”
  • The cafe chain’s popular Roll Up the Rim contest went digital this year, in an effort by the company to further build its mobile loyalty platform.


Tim Hortons is doubling down on its commitment to digital, announcing that its mobile app and loyalty program are major pillars of a new $80 million corporate investment.

In an announcement on March 15, the cafe chain announced new additions to its Back to Basics plan that will increase advertising expenses, highlight menu improvements, and support continued enhancements to its digital experience. These will include substantial investments in the Tim Hortons loyalty program, Tims Rewards, which has already shown substantial growth in recent months. According to Tim Hortons, one-third of all Canadian adults have used the Tims Rewards program in the last year and a half, while the monthly active users of the program have grown five-fold since 2018.

Axel Schwan, Tim Hortons president, said the company will also continue to invest in its mobile app, reporting that the company has seen “strong progress in digital” throughout 2020.

“Despite the disruptions from COVID, our team maintained focus throughout 2020,” Schwan said. “We are continuing to work hard on improving personalized offers on the app and are rolling out predictive selling on our drive-thru menu boards across the country this year.  This is all part of our goal to provide Canada’s best in class digital guest experience.”

On top of the corporate investment, Tim Hortons restaurant owners in Canada will be increasing their advertising contributions to 0.5% of sales.

Jose Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands International — which is Tim Hortons’ parent company — said that the Tim Hortons Back to Basics plan, particularly its digital investments, has already seen success. “The plan focuses on building an experienced, talented and stable leadership team, investing in product quality, becoming an industry leader in the digital guest experience, delivering great value for money, and continuing to build our strong, iconic brand in communities across Canada,” Cil said.

Tim Hortons has been focusing strongly on digital investment in recent months, particularly with its annual Roll up the Rim contest, which the company reworked this year to emphasize a focus on digital engagement. Customers are incentivized to use the Tim Hortons app to collect rewards during the duration of the contest, which runs from March 11 – April 7: Buying a coffee using a re-usable cup earns customers three “rolls” on the app during the first two weeks, while purchasing a coffee in the standard paper cup and registering the purchase on the app earns two “rolls” — one on the app and one on the physical cup. A standard paper cup and no app results in one roll, as usual. In addition, the final two weeks of the contest are digital-only.

Tim Hortons has also recently innovated its drive-thru screens to focus on the Tims Rewards program, which currently has 7.5 million members. New screens, which will be installed at 10,000 Tim Hortons locations, feature predictive ordering technology. Each screen will have the Tims Rewards program integrated and will accommodate the loyalty program via smartphone scanning, Bluetooth, or near-field communication.