Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reverse thrust for Boost loyalty?

Boost juice bars have been one of the retail success stories of this decade, with rapid expansion and acquisition taking the chain from its first store in 2001 to not much short of 200 stores today under the leadership of entrepreneur Janine Allis. The fresh, bright, youthful execution of the brand has been one of the keys to the success of the venture.

But in the loyalty stakes, I'm not sure the execution has been handled as brilliantly. Boost's first loyalty device was an unremarkable stamps-on-card, get-nth-juice-free deal. Then came the VIBE club, accompanied by a nice bright piece of plastic, and an unfettered 10% discount on every juice purchased. Great deal for the consumers, but who were they rewarding? Well in my case, I was by any measure an infrequent visitor to my local Boost juice bar, but on one such visit, I was given a VIBE club card - no questions asked! I think I may have just had to hand over an email address - easy-peasy.

So I was a happy camper, but I couldn't help but wonder, why were they frittering away 10% of their margin on me? In my case, I enjoyed the discount, but I'm just not so keen on those bars and it certainly didn't increase my frequency, and I don't think I particularly hunted out a Boost bar compared with the competition. So any sense of rewarding your best customers, or providing an incentive targeted at gaining the maximum sales uplift appeared to be missing.

Fast forward a few years and the impact of whatever happened in the intervening period meant that Boost had to change their tune for their valued club members. And they did so via a simple message - the 10% off deal was gone.

Withdrawing a benefit isn't easy. Perhaps if Boost had garnered its best customers under this scheme, say the best 20% of their juice-buying public that was generating 70%-80% of their revenue, they would have considered providing a 10% discount ongoing. As it turned out it was hard not to avoid leaving a pithy taste among their juice-buying public.