Tag Archives: mba marketing

Balzac's Coffee

Ever since man discovered coffee beans, he has tried his best to improve the concoction. If you are in Toronto and crave for the perfect cup of coffee with the perfect ambiance to enjoy it in, you must find yourself in Balzac’s Coffee in the distillery district.

How good is their coffee you ask? It is so good that I doubt if they drank this instead of wine during the last supper. So good that I fear it might start a war between countries that have it and countries that don’t. It is so good that I wonder if Starbucks Management have surveillance on Balzac to track its success. I swear I saw some shifty eyes and some camera’s the last time I went there.

As an MBA (Marketing) student, I have been taught to observe the intricate aspects of the experience that defines the brand. So What defines Balzac’s Cafe?

First it is the smell. Regulars at the Distillery district would often find a full-grown man floating in the air drawn to the smell of perfectly roasted and brewed coffee. I swear I feel a couple of pounds lighter every time I smell the heavenly aroma.

And then you step into the café to be transformed into another era. Right from the decades old posters to the antique coffee grinders to the chalkboard menu – everything screams of the perfect getaway café. My perfect spot in the Distillery District café is upstairs on the landing – cut off from the first floor overlooking the ground floor, it is the perfect place for coffee and people watching.

It is a shame that its market awareness is bordering dangerously low. It is frequented by people with offices in the distillery district and some tourists who stumble across the café looking for a cup of java. It is not an alternative to Tim Hortons or Starbucks.

Balzac is a Destination Brand

Balzac’s Cafe operates in a whole different league and should be branded as a destination brand. People travel miles for a Tiffany’s store or even the 360 restaurant on CN tower for the experience and the destination. Balzac has the potential to be a destination coffee café but it needs more market awareness. Can’t wait for the new stores in downtown Toronto.

Their recent influx of marketing for this great chain has been due to its pitch in Dragons Den on CBC.

You can find the video of the pitch here.

I do believe that there are good times ahead for my favorite café with Diana Olson working with Arlene Dickinson of Venture Communications & Bruce Croxon of Lavalife. I would love to see Balzac’s being transformed into a destination brand for its customers to look forward to.

Balzac’s need to have their marketing strategy defined and in place. Everyone wants to be associated with a café with heritage. Starbucks has been well-known to pull off some of the best media campaigns (I’ve written about it in my earlier posts – 1, 2.) to create awareness – not that it needs any, and to attract new customers who would one day become loyal brand advocates.

With the budget constraints of a small operation (Balzac’s sale are $ 3.2million), it would be wise to design an integrated marketing campaign that uses social media to create a buzz around the destination and follows it up with some in-store campaigns. I am sure that once consumers visit the store they would become repeat customers. The question is how do we create awareness to drive people to Balzac’s Coffee Roasters?

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