The Strategy Behind Tim Hortons Digital Roll Up the Rim Campaign

A revamped loyalty push and focus on sustainability are the main factors influencing the coffee chain's decision to go digital.

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Need to Know

  • In an effort to further build its mobile loyalty platform, Tim Hortons annual Roll Up the Rim contest will focus on becoming a digital component this year. 
  • The contest will run from March 11 – April 7 and have a different contest entry stages rolling out over its duration.
  • Buying a coffee using a re-usable cup earns customers three rolls on the app during the first two weeks. 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.  Standard paper cup and no app results in one roll. 
  • The final two weeks of the contest are digital-only. 
  • To reduce environmental impact and encourage digital adoption, Tim Hortons is giving away 1.8 million reusable cups throughout their locations a day before the contest begins.

Analysis 

After 35 years with minimal changes, Tim Hortons is evolving its famous Roll Up the Rim program beyond the cup. A recent earnings call revealed that the coffee chain’s same-store sales fell 4.6% in Canada, prompting Tim Hortons to push a new back-to-basics, digitally-focused growth plan centered around the mobile app. 

This year, customers looking to score big in the contest will need to be members of Tim Hortons loyalty program and its mobile app. The change wasn’t solely driven by member signups however, as the company has been facing growing criticism from environmental groups for the high number of non-recyclable cups used during the annual contest. 

The contest runs from March 11 to April 7 and will feature multiple ways customers can earn a roll. Purchase a coffee using a re-usable cup results in three rolls on the app. Purchase a coffee in the standard, non-recyclable paper cup and register the purchase on the app—two rolls, one on the app and one on the physical cup.  Purchase a coffee in a standard paper cup without the app, and that’s one roll. The final two weeks of the contest are entirely digital, unlocked through scanning the loyalty app after a coffee purchase. 

“It’s important for the consumer,” said Tim Hortons’ CMO Hope Bagozzi in an interview with the Toronto Star. “But it’s also important for us as a business and a brand to be doing the right thing and the responsible thing in trying to reduce the environmental footprint and take as many single-use cups out of circulation as possible, and get people to make that a habit — whether it’s their own mug or something they buy from us.”

The idea is to hit three markers all at once: boost sales with a well-known promotional campaign, improve sustainability with reusable cups, and drive members to the loyalty program. It’s a huge step forward to make the campaign entirely digital, and Tim Hortons is hoping the gamble pays off.

To help its customers make with the switch from paper cups, Tim Hortons is giving away 1.8 million reusable cups on March 10, one day before the contest begins. 

Studies show that customer rewards programs grow sales and increase brand loyalty. Coffee giant Starbucks has over 18.9 million active members in its loyalty program. Starbucks CEO has said that when customers join their rewards program their spend increases “meaningfully.” 

Tim Hortons currently has 7.5 million members in its loyalty program. But with customers craving loyalty nearly as much as winning, their new mobile app focused Roll Up the Rim contest the coffee chain can expect to see that number jump significantly.

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