Australian social enterprise Thankyou Group to launch in NZ

First published in New Zealand Herald 3 March 2016

Australian social enterprise Thankyou Group is coming to New Zealand and if it pans out the way it has in Australia, FMCG brands have reason to feel apprehensive.

Founded in 2008 by a then 19-year old Daniel Flynn and his friends Justine Flynn (now his wife) and Jarryd Burns, the Thankyou Water they first launched seemed a perplexingly unnecessary product that was going to disappear in amongst the many other bottled waters in the market.

Instead, Thankyou Water proved to be the cause and metaphor that young, socially engaged consumers were looking for.

New bottled water in a market flooded with bottled water (where tap water is 100% safe to drink) for the sole purpose of funding safe water projects in developing nations.

Positioned as David versus Goliath in the brand and supermarket wars, Thankyou Water tapped into a social media generation, created a social storm and won distribution through perseverance; firstly through the Australian 7-Eleven network, then Australia Post and eventually the major supermarkets.

They might have been young when they launched the business, and they’re still only in their mid-20s, but this is no wishy washy Not-for-Profit hoping y’all reach deep into your pockets for some loose change.

Thankyou Group is a skilled operation that develops highly desirable products that customers want.

Today, that includes 34 products in categories as diverse as body care, food and water.

In fact, Flynn tells me that according to Coles’ data the Thankyou hand wash is both number 1 and 2 in its category.

Highly impressive stuff given the multinationals they’re up against.

It also explains why Coles and Woolworths continue to support the brand’s ever-expanding product ranges. They sell, and they sell in vast quantities.

The enterprise has always maintained that 100 per cent of profits are distributed to local and global charitable endeavours. As it’s a private company, turnover is not publicly known but to date AU$3.7 million profit has been raised for causes, with AU$1.5 million last year alone.

Thankyou Group has also proved to have an incredibly elastic brand and is ready for the next step.

As the extremely charismatic Daniel Flynn announced to a rather swanky cocktail soiree of over 800 supporters on Friday, that step involves two things: expansion to New Zealand, and taking on the big guns of the baby industry with the launch of Thankyou Baby, starting with nappies.

Flynn estimates a combined $1.2 million is needed to launch the new projects, and Friday’s event kicked off a crowd-funding campaign that has so far raised $420,000.

So what will New Zealand make of the brand when Thankyou enters the market?

Will it resonate with Kiwis the same way it has with Australia? I’m predicting yes.

Over the last year, Flynn and his team have been travelling to New Zealand and meeting with prospective partners to understand whether the business model can work over the Tasman. They’ve engaged a former Unilever executive and New Zealander to develop the local market, and engaged Masterchef Brett Macgregor as ‘Chief Taster’. They’re working on local products sourced from Kiwi ingredients and companies, and will be raising funds for both local New Zealand and international charities.

But first, they need the people to get behind the cause once more and make it all possible.

Find out more here.

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