Tim's Coffee Mug - © Tim Horton's

Tim’s Has Another Big Image Problem…

We all know that Tim Horton’s – once among the most admired Brands in Canada along with Canadian Tire and Campbell’s – has taken an amazing dive in popularity among its franchisees. But, now, the public’s opinion of the company has followed suit, in the latest annual poll…

McDonalds vs Tim Hortons - © KBD ProductionsTVEven v-bloggers consider McDonald’s the chief competitor of Tim Horton’s in
the ground-level, plain Coffee marketplace. And the debate over
whose Java is better has been going on for a long time

In 2017, Tim’s placed fourth in the annual Globe and Mail rankings of Canada’s most-admired brands. The 2018 poll results are just out, and Tim’s has dropped to fiftieth place.

“What the heck?” you say.

It’s true, and the very public war between franchisees and the head office has had a lot to do with the erosion of Tim’s corporate image.

Blame it on RBI

Tim’s original owners sold out to global profit skimmer Restaurant Brands International (RBI) a couple of years ago. They’re the same people who bought Burger King just before that. And they’ve given Tim’s the same treatment they tend to give all their acquisitions – cut, cut, cut. Cut staff, cut franchisee profit margins, cut collective brand marketing.

A group of dis franchisees has coalesced under the banner of what they call the Great White North Franchisees Association to sue RBI. RBI is taking the long view. That is, they’re using every delaying tactic their lawyers can come up with to try and freeze the franchisees out. So much for the dream of cordial head-office relations.

The experts are raising caution flags…

Bruce Winder, a co-founder and partner at Retail Advisors Network, told CTV News Channel that Tim Horton’s should be worried by the survey results. He thinks Canadians have exiled Tim’s from the ranks of companies they trust to the hinterland of companies they don’t particularly like or trust. I have to agree. I, personally, no longer consider Tim’s the Canadian icon and community leader it once was.

David Soberman, National Chair of Strategic Marketing at the Rotman School of Management, told CTV he thinks the plunge in Tim’s brand popularity opens a door for competitors – primarily McDonald’s – to step in and steal a considerable slice of Tim’s market share. He believes that Tim’s customers are generally staying with Tim’s for their Coffee needs out of habit. And the lack of viable alternatives in the marketplace. I have to agree on this point, too; there’s nothing else out there like Tim’s Coffee, and many a Tim’s customer will tell you they’re ‘addicted’ to it.

It’s going to be an interesting year…

One way or another, this is going to be an interesting year for Tim’s, and the whole Coffee sector, in fact. Coffee sales have stagnated for several months, now, and all the players in the ground-level, plain Coffee market are trying to come up with ways to get sales growing again. That’s extra pressure on Tim’s, which is already suffering that serious brand image issue.

We’ll have to wait and see…

~ Maggie J.