Thankyou for giving us more than just another product
When we buy something, we are buying more than just the product. We are buying a brand, it’s culture, values and practices. Many of us know and recognise this, though not all of us use this knowledge when making our final decision at the counter. There are just so many other factors jostling their way to the front of our mind – price, position on the self, implied quality, design, friend recommendations, price, and of course the brand. Whether ‘you’ve always bought it before’ (i.e. loyalty) or whether the company’s marketing strategy has done the job and you trust that it’s the best option, the brand will have a significant influence on our ultimate decision.
The challenge of a social enterprise, whose product is ultimately equal in many ways to it’s competitors, is to remind customers that when they buy their product, they are buying into the greater purpose of the brand.
Now this is no easy task, as Daniel Flynn, co-founder of Thankyou Group, explained to a room full of keen listeners last Tuesday. Buyers do not necessarily place a brand whose profits will support development projects above a tried and true/ well established/ holding 90% of the market/ marginally cheaper brand. They will often just continue doing what they’re always done. They will see change as too difficult, or perhaps too risky.
But that does not mean social entrepreneurs should give up, particularly as (unlike other brands) giving up is more than just deciding not to pursue a certain business venture. It’s giving up on your dream and your purpose. These thoughts are what kept Daniel going – every time his product was rejected, every time a deal fell through, every time his manufacturers stuffed up an order, and every time someone told him that it was impossible because the market was too saturated or his competitors too big and established and rich.
Daniel was (and still is) pursuing the elimination of the 1 billion people living in extreme poverty. He is trying to make sure that every person on the planet has access to clean water. This is the idea that he is selling alongside his otherwise essentially undifferentiated product – bottled water. And this is the idea that people in Australia bought into. Here, Thankyou has built a considerable (and still growing) customer base of people who support their mission. Daniel and the Thankyou team are now gearing up to launch their company (and their dream) internationally. They are ready to see whether New Zealand residents buy into it too.
One of the reasons Daniel and the Thankyou team were able to sell their mission with such success is because they never drifted from it. Their determination and persistence was evident when hearing Daniel’s recount of the Thankyou journey. They weren’t going to accept “this is the way it’s always been done” excuse. People choose Thankyou is because they have made their mission central to their brand, thus giving its differentiation trait more weight for tipping the scales in their favour.
To compare, Cadbury sells some certified Fairtrade chocolate, though most is uncertified. If someone asked “why do you buy Cadbury?” it’s unlikely you would answer, “because of it’s support for fair labour conditions in its supply chain”. The Cadbury brand is all about flavour and quality, the slogan on their website reads “what flavour do you favour?” In contrast, the slogan on Thankyou t-shirts read, “Live everyday, Give everyday.”
In our increasingly conscious society, more and more people are considering their values when making purchases, which is great news for social enterprises and should always be kept in mind when they are constructing their brand image. This and much more can be learned from the Thankyou story, the story we were privileged to hear a short version of at our event last Tuesday. The long story can be read in ‘Chapter One’ by Daniel Flynn, and if you purchase a copy in the next 7 days you will be assisting their New Zealand launch.
If your company, not-for-profit or social enterprise is having difficulty finding its purpose, communicating its purpose, or engaging its staff and customers or clients in its purpose One10 can help (contact us here). Don’t be disheartened, and don’t give up! If Thankyou can do it then you can too.
Never forget, You Have the Power to Change Stuff!