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Canadian Tire enhances Triangle Rewards with subscription program Triangle Select

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By: Bill Hanifin, CLMP™ |

Posted on April 5, 2023

Iconic Canadian retail brand is leading the next generation of customer strategy

Canadian Tire is a quintessential, highly beloved Canadian brand and, for most Canadians, Canadian Tire Money is nearly as iconic. Triangle Rewards is Canadian Tire’s loyalty program that rewards customers across all of its brands and is reported to have 11.3 million members at the end of 2022. The latest news is that Canadian Tire has launched Triangle Select, a subscription program tied to its core loyalty program. The launch signifies the beginning of the next generation of customer loyalty in Canada and North America. We share the overview of this news and an in-depth interview with Jason Blanchette, Senior Vice President, Customer and Loyalty at Canadian Tire Corporation.

Canadian Tire is a quintessential, highly beloved Canadian brand. The company was founded in 1922 and provides Canadians with products for life across its Living, Playing, Fixing, Automotive and Seasonal & Gardening divisions. Canadian Tire operates more than 1,700 retail and gasoline outlets and operates retail brands Party City, PartSource, and Gas+. The group also includes Mark's, a leading source for casual and industrial wear; Pro Hockey Life, a hockey specialty store catering to elite players; SportChek, Hockey Experts, Sports Experts, and Atmosphere, which offer the best activewear brands, and Helly Hansen, a leading technical outdoor brand based in Oslo, Norway. Canadian Tire Financial is another important part of this massive enterprise.

For most Canadians, Canadian Tire Money is nearly as iconic, starting as paper money decades ago and coming into digital in the last 10 years or so. Collecting Canadian Tire Money was an art form, every household collected it, and the big spenders would save up the money to redeem in-store for a lawn mower even if it took a suitcase to carry all the money into the store.....that's one reason they are now digital.

Stores are dealer owned, with many located in remote communities and the locations taking on the persona of a gathering place for people on a Saturday morning. Canadian Tire locations are a great example of a “third place”, a term used to describe places where people spend time between work and home, with people in the habit of gathering on Saturday mornings.

Triangle Rewards is Canadian Tire’s loyalty program that spans all of its brands and is reported to have 11.3 million members at the end of 2022. “Rewarding Real Life” is the program tagline, and the makeup of the program backs up that promise.

The latest news is that Canadian Tire has launched a subscription feature in its loyalty program named Triangle Select, aimed at bringing more value and benefits to members of the loyalty program. Breaking through the murky approach that many brands take in communicating programs and offer rules, Triangle Select clearly demonstrates member value, mapping out how to maximize rewards by stacking offers on its website. Visible offers today show how members can earn “CT Money” at the equivalent of 26 percent on high-end kitchen mixers and 29 percent on work boots at Marks.

A quick review of other Triangle Select features includes:

  • Triangle Select costs $89 plus tax per year and is meant to be an “enrichment” to the existing Triangle Rewards program.
  • Triangle Select members can earn CT Money faster on all eligible purchases in-store at Canadian Tire, Mark’s, Sport Chek, Sport Experts, Party City, L’Équipeur, and others, thanks to stackable, bonus rewards.
  • New members receive a welcome gift valued at $50 and, for a limited time, a six-month Crave subscription.

Highlighting the significance of the Triangle Select introduction, Lia Grimberg, Principal of Radicle Loyalty, commented “Canadian Tire is driving innovation in Canada as the country shifts from decades of being somewhat coalition-centric to a greater emphasis on individual or partner loyalty programs. The paid tier strengthens Triangle Rewards overall and is a way to better serve Canadian Tire’s premium customers. The current program didn’t have tiers outside of its co-brand credit card. The introduction of a subscription program element speaks to the broader trend in the market and puts Canadian Tire’s offer in competition with Amazon Prime and Walmart Plus. Interestingly, the $89 fee doesn't include free shipping, but rather a shipping discount on the first 5 online purchases.  It does, however, include a $50 gift and a 6-month Crave membership (the Canadian version of HBO Max).”

To gain a fuller perspective on the launch of Triangle Select, The Wise Marketer connected with Jason Blanchette, Senior Vice President, Customer and Loyalty at Canadian Tire Corporation to learn more.

According to Jason, Canadian Tire had been running a beta test of Triangle Select, and the decision to launch nationally was made in mid-2022 after all key metrics were achieved. In an article, he commented, “In our beta test of Triangle Select, the average member’s annual incremental earnings through select-specific bonuses were more than three times the subscription fee – demonstrating the incredible value this program will bring to our customers this year and beyond”.

Blanchette also stated a multi-phased marketing plan launched in February focused on re-engaging beta test members, with a four-week long mass marketing campaign including TV, paid digital, and national media and influencer campaign launching this week to introduce the program to the rest of Canada. “Moving forward, we are focused on how to tell the full Triangle Rewards story – including how Select works to elevate our base and credit products,” said Blanchette.

Jason was kind to spend time with The Wise Marketer to go into depth here:

1. Jason, tell us a little about yourself, your background, and how you came to this industry.

I’ve been with Canadian Tire Corporation for most of the past 25 years. I started  as a Finance Consultant and then became interested in retail analysis and consumer behaviour. After 5 years at McDonald’s Canada as the Director, Consumer, and Business Insights, I decided to come back home to Canadian Tire Corporation to learn and discover more about our loyal customer base.

2. Can you share more about your role at Canadian Tire and your overall responsibilities?

I’m the Senior Vice President, Customer, and Loyalty (Marketing). The team covers many of the key aspects of the customer: what they do, how they feel, and how we as a company show up for them throughout their journey -  whether that be via mass vehicles like our printed and digital flyers and promos like Triangle Bonus Days or very personalized executions like the weekly 1:1 offer program. The key areas are 1. Triangle Rewards (Product/Program Strategy and Marketing) 2. Customer Promotions (Flyer, Mass Events, etc.) 3. Personalization & Customer Analytics 4. Enterprise Digital Marketing and 5. Customer Experience & Insights. The team looks at data and researches behaviour across all of Canadian Tire Corporation’s group of companies, so there’s always something to learn based on who shops where and how.

3. Canadian Tire is an iconic Canadian brand. Can you talk about what it represents today?

For 100 years, we’ve been a mainstay in communities across Canada where we are constantly evolving and adapting to meet the needs of our customers. In 2022, our centennial year, Canadian Tire Corporation launched its new brand purpose: We Are Here to Make Life in Canada Better. Adding value for our customers has always been a priority and Triangle Select is another way we deliver on this promise. 

4. What key milestones in Canadian Tire’s loyalty program development can you share?

The Triangle Rewards program was launched in 2018 to give Canadians more choices to earn and redeem their beloved Canadian Tire Money.  Since then, we have focused on optimizing the program and the Triangle app providing members with the ability to view personalized offers for Canadian Tire’s Group of Companies in one central location. The app also allows for the management of loyalty accounts and credit cards from anywhere, so members can track credit card and loyalty transactions at the same time and view, activate, and even swap offers.

Triangle Select was conceptualized and refined through a series of customer studies throughout 2020. During the pandemic, we saw heightened engagement with our 1:1 offers and growing engagement with our Triangle program as customers shopped more across our banners and had a keen focus on getting the most value for their dollar.

Throughout 2021, we built the Triangle Select product and in August of that year, our yearlong beta test was launched to a subset of our customers. The results were monitored throughout 2022 and the decision to launch nationally was made in mid-2022 once we saw that all key metrics had been achieved. We spent the last half of 2022 building the product in our new digital platform and launched on January 12th, 2023.

5. Do you consider Triangle Select a program tier in Triangle Rewards?

Triangle Select isn’t being implemented as a traditional loyalty program tier – any customer, regardless of previous engagement or spend, can add Triangle Select to our base program or any of our credit cards to act as a booster to earn more Canadian Tire Money than ever before.

6. What’s the role of partnerships in your loyalty strategy?

While many of our benefits are anchored in our stores, we also believe that in some cases partnerships and cross-brand collaboration can unlock opportunities to meet even more of our customers’ needs.

We know Canadians love streaming and so we collaborated with Bell on a partnership for the beta to see if retail and content together could be a powerful offering.  Beta confirmed that customers valued this feature, and we are pleased to continue to offer this extra value to our members during the launch. Currently, for a limited time, Triangle Select members will receive a special offer from Crave for a six-month Crave subscription upon sign-up.

7. What's next for Canadian Tire in terms of customer loyalty?  

Moving forward, we are focused on how to tell the full Triangle Rewards story – including how Select works to elevate our base and credit products. 

In beta, almost 70% of select members had one of our credit cards so we know it’s a compelling message to highlight how the products can work together to deliver the best value.

We also saw that the program drives significantly more spend and cross-shop across our banners – and members that cross-shop spend an average of three times more than those who shop at only one banner.

8. What else can you share with us about this recent news?

Triangle Select is an enrichment to the existing Triangle Rewards Loyalty program. Members can earn CT Money even faster on all eligible purchases in-store at Canadian Tire, Mark’s, SportChek, Sport Experts, Party City, L’Équipeur and more, thanks to stackable, bonus Rewards including:

  • 10x in-store bonus (4% CT Money earned) 
  • 20x in-store brand boost (8% CT Money earned) 
  • 20x annual top-up (8% CT Money earned)
  • The Cost is $89+ tax a year, but quickly pays for itself through rich rewards, a welcome gift ($50 value), and more. 

We asked Lia Grimberg to summarize her thoughts on the incremental value the program may contribute to Canadian Tire. “In my opinion”, said Lia, “Paid loyalty tier fees typically do not drive a positive ROI, as they are used to offset incremental costs of points, partnerships, and benefits. Profitability for paid loyalty needs to come from incremental spend and engagement from subscribers.

Lia continued “However, it is typically the best, most loyal customers who enroll in fee-based loyalty tiers.  Since they already spend most of their share with that retailer, it is often difficult to drive incrementality from this cohort. It will be imperative for Canadian Tire to entice the “next best” to enroll as well.  This is the group that needs to be nurtured, as they have room to grow their spend.”