Tim Hortons is the Canadian icon coffee place. It represents everything that is Canadian to many individuals. Even their marketing strategy plays on their “Canadian identity,” often featuring families at early morning hockey practices in the middle of winter. Tim Hortons is also active in the community with its Timbits soccer and hockey programs. For students and others with small budgets, the price of Tim Hortons is appealing. They have a large menu of food, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options. They are the home of the addictive Roll-up-the-Rim competition. I’m sure everyone can even admit to keeping track of their wins and loses. Some locations also feature a partnership with Coldstone Creamery or Wendy’s. This just serves to widen their customer base by partnering with companies that are not direct competitors. Tim Hortons locations are practically everywhere, and yet they are still often busy with drive thru line ups out to the road. Currently, Tim Hortons is a strong market player, but has been suffering some turmoil after being sold to an American company. More and more, it is being criticized for trying to be too much like Starbucks, instead of staying true to its Canadian roots.
Starbucks is an American invasion, albeit a good one. They are much pricier than Tim Hortons, but on a similar price level as Second Cup. It is as Rex Murphy said “suck up coffee.” One of my earliest memories of Starbuck is from the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, where Andy has to get her boss Miranda’s order. Starbucks is often referred to as being mature and sophisticated, a coffee place for adults. Not that adults don’t drink Tim Hortons or McDonald’s, Starbucks brands itself as being for professionals. Additionally, the word “venti” sounds a lot more appealing than “large.” Starbucks has a limited menu of food in contrast to its extensive drink menu. The insides are dark, but still warm and inviting with an array of comfortable chairs and couches. Starbucks’, like Tim Hortons, are everywhere. They have their stand alone stores, as well as partnerships with Safeway, Chapters, and the ill-fated Target. Perhaps Target should have from their roommates, Starbucks. Currently, the Starbucks stock price is high and is set to move even higher.
Second Cup is Canadian company that is equivalent in price relatively to Starbucks. It does, like a Canadian would, focus on the community, but not to the large extent that Tim Hortons does. They focus on coffee beans that are fair trade, explaining their higher prices. They also feature comfortable chairs and couches to sit and chat with friends or read a book. Second Cup stores are also harder to find than their competitors. They also have a limited menu of food. While competitors have made strategic partnerships, Second Cup has not. They prefer stand alone stores to sharing locations. Second is faltering a bit right now. Last year, they saw a decrease in sales. From observation, most locations of Second Cup are either thriving or dying. St. Albert’s two locations are an example. One is successful while the other is barely making it. They are trying to make a second coming with the new locations opening. These new locations are more open and light then the previous darker stores.
McDonald's is newcomer to the coffee giant game. also known as McCafe. The McCafe has seen a fresh image that keeps improving. The coffee and hot chocolate have greatly improved over recent years. They also promote their coffee through “free small coffee” days. MacDonalds are relatively easy to find and are located in Wal-Mart’s as well. They are less pricey than Second Cup and Tim Hortons. They also have a wide food menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. McCafe currently has an aggressive expansion plan.
So, how do you choose your coffee place? Which of these tactics work on you?