Business Strategy

Key Goals & Agenda

  • Coffee is the world’s second most valuable traded commodity behind oil.

  • As the large chains like Starbucks and Tim Horton’s continue to dominate market in Toronto, independent coffee shops and smaller chains are finding ways to break into new markets.
  • These smaller coffee shops and cafes are using alternative strategies that extend beyond the brand association and a cup of coffee drinks offered by the larger chains.
  • Dark Horse Espresso Bar is a downtown Toronto based mini coffee bar chain. By creating a digital marketing approach, we would like to increase sales, current and potential customers’ awareness and grow Dark Horse business throughout GTA market.

Background & Research

Mini-chain. Est. in September 2006 by Deanna Zunde and Ed Lynds.

4 locations, 1 bakery:

  • Trinity Bellwoods
  • Riverside
  • Chinatown
  • Entertainment District
  • Dovercourt VillageToronto downtown areas with plenty of digital companies, small marketing firms, startups, etc.
  • “Indie Coffee Shop”
  • Trendy and urban
  • Highly trained baristas
  • Industrial and vintage interior
  • Bake mostly in house, cold brews
  • Use porcelain in house cups
  • Plenty of coffee based drinks options
  • Have lunch options
  • Freelancer friendly
  • Communal tablescompetitive_analysis_dark_horse_vividpixel500competitive_analysis_2_vividixel500


Consumer Analysis

  • Male, Female 25 – 40 years old / downtown living
  • Freelancers / Work at Local Creative Shop
  • Appreciate nicely done coffee brew
  • Like urban Interior / Stylish / Trendy vibe
  • Willing to pay extra for the taste
  • Know a lot about coffee, picky yet grateful consumers
  • Spend a lot of time online
  • Support local business
  • Educated / possess a degree
  • Open Minded


Current Coffee Shops’ Trends

  • Coconut/almond milk
  • Local ingredients / pastries
  • Healthy Food Choices
  • Non GMO, Gluten Free
  • Earth Friendly / Green
  • Protein shakes
  • Transparent processes
  • International blends
  • Fair Trade
  • Loose leaf tea
  • Fresh Squeezed Juices



Recommended Approach

Dark Horse Espresso Bar is targeting a relatively narrow auditory, who is willing to pay an extra price for a quality and well made cup of coffee. Espresso Bar is well known in downtown area, where almost all creative, digital companies are concentrated, this is a successful business approach.

Dark Horse Managing team has to develop stable presence in major social network platforms, interact and engage with potential consumers.

However if they are planning on expanding the chain around the GTA area, they will have to minimize selections and price as Tim Horton’s / Starbucks / Second Cup will be main competitors. They will have to target family / elderly auditory, more bakery oriented. As most important for consumers will be the price than quality.

Dark Horse Espresso Bar Toronto, Canada

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