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Tim Hortons drives foot traffic with scavenger hunt on social media

September 23, 2014

tim hortons 185Tim Hortons Café & Bake Shop is offering a slew of ways for consumers to celebrate National Coffee Week, including a social media scavenger hunt for free gift cards across select cities in the United States.

The brand is offering these incentives to celebrate National Coffee Week, which runs from Sept. 22 through Sept. 29. It is aiming to promote its new Dark Roast coffee blend, which launched this past August.

“It is a good way to create an incentive for following Tim Horton’s on social media, they have created a reward for consumers to follow and like the brand,” said Mike Cochrane, sales director at Atimi Software Inc. “With so many brands embracing social media, extra leverage is needed to gain a following.”

Social scavenger hunt
Tim Hortons fans should prepare their mobile devices for next Monday. The week-long National Coffee Week celebration will culminate in National Coffee Day on Sept. 29.

The shop plans to distribute more than $9,000 in gift cards and money to fans in participating locations, via a scavenger hunt on social media. Golden envelopes containing $25 gift cards to the café or cash will be hidden in participating cities.

Select locations include major cities in Ohio, New York and Michigan. Clues to the envelopes’ whereabouts will be posted on the brand’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages.

The golden envelope clues will likely result in high traffic on the company’s social media sites, as well as word-of-mouth circulation. Tim Hortons hopes for fans to find a hidden envelope and treat themselves to a $1 coffee on National Coffee Day.

Tim Hortons prioritizes mobile strategy and has an app, TimmyMe, available for any mobile platform. With its tap-to-pay mobile payment system, the brand makes purchasing coffee-on-the-go easier, especially during the hectic morning rush.

“Although not completely new to the US, TH has a challenge of getting brand recognition in a heavily saturated coffee primary QSR,” said Mr. Cochrane. “A $1 is a very reasonable price point to allow people to try it and demonstrate the affordability of TH and its offerings.

“The combination of the 3 tactics, price point, golden envelope, and promoting via social media all work together and will help with the customer conversion.”

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Coffee celebrations
Tim Hortons is offering any size coffee drinks for $1 in either the Regular or Dark Roast blends. The Dark Roast blend was developed from 100 percent Arabica beans and mixes hints of cocoa, citrus and earthy flavors.

While the any size drink for $1 offer is excluded in Buffalo, New York and Presque Isle, Maine, customers in those locations may purchase a Dark Roast medium-size coffee for $1 instead.

The brand hopes to convert more fans through this promotion and maintain traction after National Coffee Week. With many other coffee brands offering promotions during this time period, Tim Hortons seeks to stand out with its golden envelope strategy.

It is also a way to communicate directly with fans, and promote user engagement with all of its social media networks. For marketers looking to differentiate from the competition, Tim Hortons and its “golden ticket” strategy could be the example to emulate.

“It’s all about that value added that can be provided to gain and retain brand loyalty,” Mr. Cochrane said. “You need to give the customer as reason to come back and see what’s new.

“Encouraging social sharing and rewarding for shares is another way to show that the brand is paying attention to its loyal fans.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at

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