How to succeed in retail: Four tips from Boost Juice chief executive Jeff Allis

Boost Juice is one of Australia’s familiar business success stories and with more than 500 stores around the globe and a massive online presence, its worldwide popularity as a brand is growing rapidly.

Speaking at the eftpos Australian Retail Awards in Melbourne on Wednesday, Boost Juice chief executive Jeff Allis shared some of the real challenges he and partner Janine Allis faced in getting the business to this stage.

With a background in media and broadcast radio, Allis said his shift into the ever-evolving retail industry taught him many things, from interacting with changing consumers to getting digital right.

Here are four key lessons Allis shared from his journey.

1. Love your customers

Allis said there has been one key driver of Boost Juice’s growth over the past 16 years.

“We love our customers,” he said.

“Radio really taught me to listen to them.”

While a lot of businesses claim to do this, Allis asks how much they actually listen.

“Does the CEO really read all the research coming in from the customers?” he said.

This would require the chief executive working directly with people in customer advisory at a board level, and having regular meetings to assess how well the business or brand is interacting with customers, he said.

From day one, Allis said Boost Juice wanted to create an in-store experience unlike any other in Australia.

“In 2000, when we opened, we said we wanted our customer experience to be 10 times anything else anybody could get in any retail in Australia,” he said.

“And even though we don’t always hit that mark, we’ve set that and it still is one of our pillars today.”

When a retailer compels a consumer through an ad or interaction on social media to come into its store, an expectation is set, says Allis.

“We had to hire bright, bubbly people because otherwise there wouldn’t be that customer experience,” he said.

The bottom line is to always remember what motivates the customer.

“Why do people buy stuff? I feel good about myself for buying it – that’s the retailer’s job, that’s the brand’s job,” Allis said.

2. Create a compelling brand

Janine Allis being the face of Boost Juice is no accident.

“I remember saying to Janine, ‘You could be this under-40 inspirational woman for Australian business’,” Allis said.

It was an idea to set them apart from competitors.

So they called in some PR professionals to help present the story around Janine and Boost Juice.

“We developed a story that was all based on truth and we built the brand,” said Allis.

“That story went like wildfire and we were the only juice bar brand that had a human face behind the brand.”

3. Be real

Much of Boost Juice’s success has come from having “truthful” interactions with consumers, according to Allis.

As a brand that presents itself as young, fun and crazy, Allis said the Boost team has always challenged themselves to be genuine and authentic.

“It’s all about truth in advertising,” he says.

“If you get a truth about a brand and you can bring that across on screen, that’s really important.”

Allis pointed to a TV commercial the company made where Janine commends their young staff for working hard and doing a great job across their stores.

Boost aired the ad at a time when the press had turned on young people, Allis said.

“There was this whole portrayal of Australian youth as being bad, and not doing what they’re supposed to,” he said.

“It just went on for months and months. Janine got quite upset about it.”

During the ad, Janine said: “Hit someone with a stick and they act like an animal, give them a chance and they’ll create something really special so be warned, this is my Boost army… next time, they ask you how you are, smile, it won’t kill you.”

Though the ad said nothing about juice or smoothies, Allis said the brand’s sales went up 20%.

This wasn’t marketing brilliance, Allis said.

“We actually just told the truth, what she was really feeling.”

4. Get up to speed with digital

Allis said the next era for retail is “obviously digital”.

“It’s so important that we capture this opportunity,” he said.

As someone on the “wrong side of 50” who hasn’t grown up with a smartphone glued to his palm, Allis said he chose to bring in digital experts to help Boost with this challenge.

“Hire and trust people that really get it,” he said.

The company recently spent $200,000 to build a Boost Juice game app where consumers can play to win discounts on its products. The project was led by Boost Juice’s head of digital Christian McGilloway.

Allis said this approach to providing discounts by engaging customers had a phenomenal impact on the business.

“It was 10% of our sales at one point,” he said.

Alllis said retailers must think creatively to figure out how they can build engagement with customers.

“Advertising isn’t enough anymore, engagement is number one,” he said.

This article was originally published on SmartCompany.

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