Wow! Canadian Tire brings back catalogue

Print catalogue returns after a 10-year hiatus with 200-pages and mobile capabilities

Canadian Tire has been one of the country’s most aggressive and ambitious marketers the past few years, but the retailer’s latest tactic was almost guaranteed to make people say wow.

Last week the retailer started sending out a 200-page catalogue, its first in 10 years. Called the “Wow Guide,” the dead-tree presentation showcases more than 1,000 products across its pages. Those pages, however, have been reimagined with distinctly modern technology as part of a much larger digital strategy, said TJ Flood, senior vice-president of marketing.

Canadian Tire competes in 192 different categories and across a range of store sizes and formats—visual merchandising with that many variables to consider was very difficult, he said.

“So we wanted to create an environment where we could visually merchandise as many products as we could,” he said. “We thought the best way to do that was to create a digital catalogue.”

Flood called the online version of the Wow Guide a digital ecosystem, providing a sweeping breadth and depth of product visuals and information while also offering additional features like dynamic pricing, customer reviews and inventory levels, how-tos and product videos.

But, why a print catalogue as well? “It was an awareness play,” said Flood.

While Canadian Tire hasn’t produced a catalogue in a decade, its print flyers have remained an invaluable connection with consumers, showing up on doorsteps and mailboxes every week. When a stylish, 200-page catalogue (developed in-house and with publishing partner Rogers) appears at 12 million households across the country, it would be difficult for people not to realize something new and different was going on, explained Flood.

The print catalogue is effectively a “subset of the digital catalogue” in terms of the content, and frequently directs readers to the website for additional information, he said. The company took it further by adding on another layer of mobile interactivity.

“We thought, is there a way we could augment the experience of the paper catalogue with the smartphone,” said Flood.

Canadian Tire’s in-house IT team developed an app that gives readers “hover and discover” capabilities. Using image recognition and watermarked pages, users can hover their phone camera over a page and get digital content—dynamic pricing, videos, local inventory etc.—right on their screen.

For now the 400 pages in the digital Wow Guide is focused on spring and summer with more pages and chapters to be added around events like Father’s Day. A second catalogue will be produced for fall in the run up to Christmas.

Canadian Tire is also driving awareness through a TV campaign by Taxi, with Touché handling media and North Strategic managing PR.

A 15-second teaser ad ran on TV and as pre-roll April 11 to 14, while a longer reveal spot is running to May 12 on TV, with a 15-second pre-roll on YouTube, Facebook and Bell Media as well as programmatic banners on Google Display Network.


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