How Tim Hortons leveraged Sampler to fuel brand awareness in the United States

As part of their journey to building brand awareness throughout the United States, Tim Hortons partnered with Sampler to drive trial and product education using omnichannel product experiences with digital sampling and remarketing tailored to key markets.

Program overview

Tim Hortons, Canada’s largest restaurant chain, is on a continuous mission to grow its brand awareness in the United States. While social campaigns were effective in gaining reach and impressions, they recognized the need to also impact bottom-of-the-funnel metrics like driving trial. As a result, the Sampler team designed and executed a strategic sampling program, tailoring experiences for consumers based on their geographic location and coffee consumption preferences.

Creating customized experiences through targeting and segmentation

A distinction was made between "core" states and “non-core” states–areas with established brand awareness versus areas Tim Hortons identified had minimal existing recognition. This allowed the brand to create unique sampling experiences depending on how familiar the consumer was with their products. 

Three brands command over 55% of the K-Cup market in the US1. With this level of market concentration in mind, Sampler also ensured Tim Hortons’ samples, dark roast K-Cup pods, ended up in the hands of coffee drinkers who both had the necessary equipment to use the product and the desire to try something new. This mitigated waste and maximized impact.

In addition, Sampler’s expansive 600M+ first-party data set and Marketing Strategy team facilitated the creation of highly segmented email journeys, enhancing the overall impact of the campaign. The journey was meticulously crafted to include custom assets and social content that were produced by Sampler’s in-house creative team, and emails that shared Tim Hortons’ brand story, educated consumers on product differentiators, and drove trial through a purchase call-to-action.

Custom photography by Sampler Creative Team

Sampler’s audience segmentation capabilities proved instrumental in achieving more impactful brand awareness results. While all emails saw CTRs at least 2x higher than the industry average2, leveraging the frequent coffee drinkers segment and personalizing the messaging to better speak to this audience allowed the content to reach CTRs that were 4x higher than the industry average. The use of this segment doubled the impact of these touchpoints, extracted more value from their priority audience, and achieved engagement rates in non-core states comparable to those in states with well-established brand awareness.


samples distributed across the US


impressions and reach across branded content posts


higher CTR on content personalized for frequent coffee drinkers, even in non-core states

More program highlights

Leveraging insights for future planning

Through tailored sampling experiences and personalized user journeys, Tim Hortons was able to navigate the intricacies of the competitive US market and address the varied levels of brand awareness across states. However, the success of the sampling program was not only measured in immediate impact on trial and awareness, but also in the insights gained for future planning. Tim Hortons shared the valuable program insights with internal teams and agency partners, informing strategic decisions for subsequent campaigns to further solidify their presence in the US market.

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