Tim Hortons Back-to-Basics Plan Relies on Digital Refresh

Same-store sales are slipping for the coffee chain, but Tim Hortons can rebound by focusing on digital loyalty and personalization.

Need to Know 

  • Tim Hortons unveiled plans to revamp the brand after an earnings call revealed same-store sales fell 4.6% in Canada.
  • The plan will focus on the coffee chain’s “founding values” and include an overhaul of its existing loyalty program, a nation-wide installation of digital menu boards at every drive-thru in Canada, and a roll-up-the-rim digital makeover. 
  • Tim Hortons currently has over 7.5 million members in its loyalty program and reports that 10% of sales in Canada are digital sales. 


Tim Hortons hopes its back-to-basics digitally-focused plan will be enough to reinvigorate the brand and boost growth after an earnings call revealed a dip in sales. 

The Canadian coffee legend’s revamp will focus on customer loyalty and strengthening customer relationships. Loyalty 2.0, as Tim Hortons is calling it, will be based on points rather than visits and make most of the menu items available for redemption. Previously, customers could only access baked goods from the rewards program.

With over 7.5 million active loyalty members—25% of which share contact information with the brand—enhanced redemption means more visits. The chain’s iconic Roll-up-the-Rim contest will also receive a digital makeover, funneling more clients the loyalty program and increasing customer’s digital adoption. 

“Our second phase of loyalty will encourage much higher levels of registration by making most of the menu accessible for redemptions and adding exciting, tailored offers based on your purchase history,” said Chris Brigleb, head of investor relations. 

“Our central priority in the [Loyalty 2.0] phase is to drive digital registration and a lot of powerful tools like sales intelligence and one-to-one marketing that we’ll use to develop stronger relationships with our guests and drive incremental sales over time. The second phase of our Tim’s Reward Loyalty Program will sit at the center of our strategy to advance into this new age of digital engagement and personalized interaction with our guests across Canada.” 

For Tim Hortons, digital engagement continues in the drive-thru. The chain revealed that it plans to install digital menu boards at every single drive-through in Canada. The digital menu boards will allow for tailored offerings based on location, time, weather and other factors. Tim Hortons Canada ad fund will invest over $100 million to complete the digital board installation over the next 12 to 18 months. 

In 2020 we’re moving forward with an important initiative to modernize the drive-through experience by deploying outdoor digital menu boards through the majority of our drive-through locations. These outdoor digital menu boards will also allow us to tailor offerings depending on location, time of day, weather and more,” said Brigleb on the call. 

“We will be able to offer complementary products and combos to guests based on the items they’ve selected and at a future stage we believe personalized offers will provide another important layer of growth.”