Jamba’s Evolution Helps it Weather the COVID Storm

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It’s been a little over a year since Jamba left the “Juice” behind. Following a $200 million sale to FOCUS Brands, the 30-year-old brand set off on a broad refresh. Like Dunkin’ and its split from “Donuts,” Jamba wanted to present an image that encompassed a wider array of offerings.

In this case, Jamba brought the tagline “Smoothies, Juices and Bowls” into play and placed the focus on a renewed commitment to balanced ingredients, plant-based options, and reduced sugar selections.

The change went live June 6, 2019, and included a host of updates. Perhaps the most visible was a fresh prototype, complete with new logo, and enhanced design elements, like light wood, “freshness cues,” and colorful and expressive elements. The menu transformed to spotlight clear categories and guide consumers into tiers—Power (enhanced smoothies), Classic favorites, and expanded Plant-Based items. More on that effort here.

Yet less outward changes were brewing behind the curtain, too. And while the chain didn’t realize it then, these have turned out to be Jamba’s COVID-19 lifeboats.

Brand president Geoff Henry, named to the role January 2019 from Coca-Cola, where he led lifestyle and beverage business growth in the water, tea and coffee divisions, points to Jamba’s digital accessibility and stack investments. Among the changes, it’s really the one that’s lifted the brand through historic challenges.

In the last 15 months, Jamba rolled a new point-of-sale across its 850 or so stores (785 domestic end of 2019, according to FoodserviceResults), launched a new mobile app and integrated rewards loyalty program, fresh ecommerce-enabled website, and expanded partnerships with third-party aggregators. Today, online transactions are running 300-plus percent higher, year-over-year.

“To be frank, even without the crisis, we had plenty of bumps in the road when we launched our new programs,” Henry says. “It took a few weeks to work through that last summer. But fortunately, we were in a great spot by the middle of last year and we could really accelerate with the crisis in terms of making sure the guest knew about it.”

Jamba has enjoyed the luxury of turning its COVID-19 attention to awareness in recent months instead of infrastructure. It integrated order ahead in Q1—pre-virus—and synched third-party delivery with POS terminals. Jamba also introduced first-party delivery via Olo’s Dispatch in February, which Henry says has “taken off” during the crisis.

The main change was, before February, customers could open the app, order ahead, and pick up. It’s evolved to where guests can access delivery from the app as well.

Jamba offers third-party delivery and direct, via its site and app.

The key is, given the ample challenges COVID-19 presents, having avenues to get food to customers who want is not one of them for Jamba.

“We were fortunate to have a variety of ways to get our product to the guest,” he says.

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