Nichol died in Toronto on September 22, 2013, at the age of 73.
Nichol's father was a railway station agent, so the family moved around frequently. Nichol completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario’s School of Business (1962). While at UWO his roommate was Galen Weston, from one of the richest families in Canada. Nichol completed a law degree at the University of British Columbia and a Masters in Law from Harvard.
His first job after Harvard was with McKinsey & Company's Toronto management consulting office. In 1972, Galen Weston asked Nichol to help him with his family's supermarket chain, Loblaws. He joined the company that year as Executive Vice-President.
In 1976, Nichol was promoted to President. He worked with Galen Weston, Richard Currie, Brian Davidson and Don Watt to establish four retailer-branded product lines: "no name" for generic products; "President's Choice" for superior quality products; “"Too Good to be True”" (TGTBT as labeled) for nutritious healthy products; and "Green" for environmentally friendly products.
Nichol was the company spokesman. He appeared in dozens of television commercials and radio spots promoting Loblaws products, most notably the President's Choice line. He starred in thirty-minute infomercials several times a year upon release of Loblaws Insider's Report periodical, of which he oversaw the development. This free publication, started in 1983, was an enhanced store flyer produced three times a year that marketed new products at discounted introductory prices. The Report "reflected his belief that success required not just great products, but great stories as well", Loblaw stated. “He always listened to the customer and kept their needs front-and-centre.”
In 1985, Loblaws was reorganized and Nichol was made President of Loblaw International Merchants, the product development arm of Loblaw Companies Limited. He held that position for eight years.
Lines of new products were built around product names, for example the "Memories of" sauce products. He also introduced The Dave Nichol Cookbook, which sold some 100,000 copies.
Some products he touted are still sold, including the President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie, which was introduced in 1988.
In 1994, Nichol became the CEO of Destination Products International, a subsidiary of Cott Corporation. For them he developed a line of unique premium food products that were offered to food retailers around the world under each retailer’s own brand name. Nichol attempted to repeat his success as spokesman by naming a beer after himself, made by Cott, and marketing it in television commercials very similar in style to his old Loblaws President's Choice spots. However, his marketing and product success was not repeated at Cott, as the company struggled to expand under Nichol, whose taste "seemed to diverge too much from the mainstream" Moreover, without direct access to shelf space, which came at Loblaws, he "had a far more difficult time gaining entry, as a result spending an excessive amount of money to secure shelf space." Just before Nichol joined Cott, the stock had reached a high-water mark in 1993 at $35.00 a share, when Nichol left it was falling dramatically for a variety of reasons, hitting bottom at $3.00 in 1998.
In 1994, Anne Kingston released his authorized biography, The Edible Man: Dave Nichol, President's Choice & the Making of Popular Taste.
In 1997, Nichol left Cott to form a consulting firm, Dave Nichol & Associates, creating specialty products sold under their own or clients' brand names. However, his public profile diminished significantly and his once stellar marketing reputation with the consumer faded.
In 2005, Nichol was inducted as a Visionary into the Hall of Canadian Marketing Legends by the American Marketing Association. He was cited for "[changing] the retail landscape forever and has done so in a sustainable and meaningful way. A lifelong passion for food has translated into fundamental evolutions in the choices and quality of food products available to Canadian households."