Brisbane's top 5 retail brands

Brisbane's top 5 retail brands

Are you a glass half full or glass half empty person? For Brisbane retailers, it depends.

Through the digital lens, one perspective is that retail is facing Armageddon.

The other is that retail is booming, and there’s never been a better time.

Perception is reality. This list features Brisbane’s top five retailers who have created a new reality of doing business in the digital era.  

#1 YouFoodz

According to IbisWorld, the fresh ready-meals business is a $600 million industry in Australia.

YouFoodz are the leaders of this market. Headquartered in Virginia, the food retailer has created this leading position by arriving early in the market, providing a quality product and creating a wonderful brand.

The bible of food marketing says it must be lickable - with imagery so delicious that it produces a mouth-watering effect. If proof is in the pudding, the digital assets and advertising by YouFoodz achieves this effect.

With new players entering the market, YouFoodz are also doing their darndest to be different. For their Valentine's Day promotion, for example, the ready meal business delivered roses to customers. This kind of point-of-difference has so far kept the retailer ahead of the pack.

Also in the YouFoodz marketing toolkit is the use of microinfluencers. Don’t be fooled by a microinfluencer’s status as an everyday human. This group of brand ambassadors are small and mighty, commanding thousands of followers. YouFoodz has microinfluencers amplify their message with well crafted aspirational visuals. The aesthetic resonates with its female market, particularly on Instagram.

Lesson: make it beautiful. The quality of imagery can be a key brand point of difference.

YouFoodz amplifies its marketing via microinfluencers on Instagram. Image credit - Laura Evans (@laurabellaevans)

YouFoodz amplifies its marketing via microinfluencers on Instagram. Image credit - Laura Evans (@laurabellaevans)

#2 Noosa Chocolate Factory

Anyone wandering the streets of Brisbane's CBD is challenged not to visit this chocolate heaven.

When Chris Thomson and Amy Sargeantson started the business in 2012, it was small beginnings. Every Saturday morning the owners would be up at 3am, to start the journey from Noosa to the Jan Powers Farmers Markets in Brisbane to sell chocolates.

The chocolatier couple have since opened six stores in Australia, and growth plans have seen Noosa Chocolate Factory open a store in Japan.

Aesthetically, the retail design of the chocolatier is superb. The low cost fit out complements the brand's qualities of authenticity and simplicity.

Smartcompany reports that the chocolate-loving founders often turn to their staff for new ideas and use social media tools to help the business continue to innovate.

Recently, one staff member suggested the company install live cameras in their warehouse so customers could see the products being created. This storytelling effect brings customers closer to the brand, with a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the product making process. Social media helps amplifies the brands qualities of hand-crafted and fresh. These are marketing words overused, but for Noosa Chocolate Factory it rings true.

Lesson: with a retail design aesthetic inspired by Aesop, Noosa Chococlate Factory makes its product the heroes. The company’s social channels help become the product’s cheerleaders.

Image credit -

Image credit -

#3 Elixir

Opening in 2014, Elixir was one of Brisbane's first rooftop bars.

Central to the success of Elixir has been its brand and strong female following. The venue has been a favourite of the female market because it provides a premium and safe experience.

Elixir’s brand has been built through storytelling. The origin of the Elixir rabbit draws its inspiration from the nearby Chinatown Mall and the connection to the "Elixir of Life." In Chinese folklore it is believed that the "Moon Rabbit" identifies a rabbit on the moon, creating ingredients for the Elixir of life.

The Elixir rabbit is a motif executed through all levels – from the fit out to all marketing material.

One of the bar’s main channels to market is Facebook. With over 35,000 followers, Elixir’s Facebook page is one of the most popular in Brisbane. The platform is perfect for glossy photography of its patrons, promoting new events and cleverly using Facebook’s advertising features.

Lesson: fuse brand building and storytelling. Communicate the story through all brand channels.

Elixir's famous bunnies

Elixir's famous bunnies

#4 99 Bikes

99 Bikes began in May 2007, a time before lyrca dominated Brisbane's roads on Sunday mornings.

Since opening its first Milton business, 99 Bikes' Managing Director Matt Turner has grown the business to over 30 stores nationally.

99 bikes is a comprehensive brand experience, with a depth of product and expertise in everything for the bike aficionado. In fact, it's broader than a bike shop, with its own club, nutrition products, clothing and a workshop.

The retailer has embraced the communal aspect of cycling with its own customer membership program called Club 99.

Creating an owned database of customers creates multiple advantages and opportunities for retailers. Chief among these is the ability to communicate directly with your most loyal customers, therefore bypassing paid communication channels. By deepening the relationship through a membership programme, 99 bikes is enabling higher retention and expanding selling opportunities.

Lesson: create a membership or loyalty programme.

99 bikes donates old bikes to people in the developing world. Image credit -

99 bikes donates old bikes to people in the developing world. Image credit -

#5 Lorna Jane

Who would have thought that gym wear (woops, I mean Activewear) could be fashionable?

Lorna Jane Clarkson thought it. The result, 27 years after opening its first store in Brisbane, are 200+ outlets in Australia and the US.

The greatest success of Lorna Jane? It's no longer gym wear. It's everywhere. It’s fashionable, inside and outside of the gym.

Lorna Jane’s brand is powerful because it is underpinned by a strong community. It is a community built on female empowerment, inspired through active living. This community has been built through jab jab hook – a term coined by Gary Vaynerchuk. Jab jab hook poses that marketers should blend content with two pieces of helpful content followed by an ask, or promotional piece.

Lorna Jane’s social channels have achieved this ratio of give give, ask – and its audience numbers are a testament to getting it right. The retailer currently boasts 789K Instagram followers and over 1 million on Facebook. 

Lesson: build a strong community, the tribe will power your brand.

Image credit -

Image credit -


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