In 2022, Canadian Tire (CT) launched its new brand purpose: We Are Here to Make Life in Canada Better. 2022 also marked CT’s 100th Birthday (CT100), setting the stage for the Canadian Tire Christmas Trail (Trail) to return for a third season, giving Canadians the Christmas of the Century. Born from a desire to safely bring the magic of Christmas to Canadians during the pandemic in 2020, the immersive, interactive drive-along Christmas experience returned in 2022 with a new purpose, a new look and a new strategy.
The holiday season is a key moment for all retail brands, but as CT has staked its claim as Canada’s Christmas Store, the holiday season presents a clear business need to defend this position. 2022 also presented the unique opportunity to further raise awareness of CT100 by using the Trail as the exclamation point to conclude the year-long momentous celebration, all while fighting to maintain the relevance of a drive-through experience in a post pandemic world.
Guests who attended the Trail in 2021 were invited to complete a post-event survey. The survey provided the below first-person data:
This data indicated a prevailing consumer appetite to attend the Trail, but most of all, it reaffirmed the Trail’s ability to deliver on the primary campaign objective – build overall brand affinity and defend CT’s position as Canada’s Christmas Store.
When reimagining the Trail, the strategy was informed by first-person survey-data and stakeholder analysis of key audiences: General Public, Media and Influencers, Employees and Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities (Jumpstart). To ensure the Trail successfully capped off CT’s centennial year, and delivered on program objectives, key elements were adapted to provide stakeholders with an elevated experience, such as:
The Trail also included updated design elements such as:
Each year, CT continues to optimize the Trail ticketing strategy. Based on 2021 feedback that weekdays proved challenging to purchase tickets, 2022 tickets were released Sundays at 12:00 pm EST. During the first ticket release date, the ticketing site experienced unprecedented traffic and interest, causing numerous technical issues. To solve for this, CT implemented a virtual line integration tool to moderate the number of users entering the site. The tool included a dynamic messaging system to tell people in line when all tickets were in carts and update them on the number of tickets remaining. This decreased the number of negative requests to the event email inbox while increasing the speed at which tickets sold out.
As an outdoor winter event, the Trail is inherently prone to weather cancellations. Since the Trail featured live talent, large structural builds and is located on Conservation land, CT needed to ensure the safety of not only the guests in their vehicles, but also performers on the Trail. This year, wooden huts were added so live performers could comfortably withstand moderate weather conditions, while inclement weather days were reserved for later dates of the event. This meant that in the event of a cancellation due to weather, guests had the opportunity to visit the Trail another time. These adjustments resulted in less cancelled days and more satisfied guests.
The Trail achieved six consecutive weeks of ticket sell-outs thanks to awareness generated by top tier earned regional media coverage, highly branded, organic influencer content, and positive word-of-mouth reviews from guests. The drive-through activation successfully reinforced CT’s brand purpose and defended its position as Canada’s Christmas Store all while ultimately reaching additional internal and external stakeholders in 2022 and exceeding objectives as follows:
Build brand affinity and defend Canadian Tire’s position as Canada’s Christmas Store:
Raise awareness of CT100 while reinforcing its brand purpose of Making Life in Canada Better:
Maintain the Trail’s relevance in its third year while increasing public awareness and attendance: