In a sea of sameness and functional claims, NZ Tax Refunds rose above the rabble by giving a feeling a name.
The tax refund market, which aims to get paying clients their share of the $700 million in overpaid taxes held by the IRD, is relatively new to New Zealand but has seen significant growth over the past few years. And, given the low barriers of entry, it’s an appealing business model. That means there are now more than 30 players in the market, all of whom used the same descriptive names, offered the same online service, and made various functional claims like “find out in 60 seconds”, “we pay faster”, “93 percent of our customers are due a refund” etc.
It was impossible to differentiate between the companies and consumers typically found agents through Google, which meant there was a hugely costly battle going on in paid search. This lack of differentiation also meant competitors benefitted from the awareness of more established brands that invested in advertising. In fact, such was the lack of engagement with the brands that some existing customers didn’t even realise they were using a different agent the following year. So, in a cluttered, commoditised category, NZ Tax Refunds needed to find a way to stand out, yet retain the equity and trust it had gained through being one of the first in the category.
Research showed there was nothing NZ Tax Refunds could differentiate itself on from a rational point of view. All service providers literally offered the same thing. So the insight was to be bold and drive acquisition by moving away from focusing on the functional product benefits of its service and instead playing on the emotional benefit: the payoff at the end.
The idea was to dramatise the moment of elation customers experience when they receive their tax refund and give the feeling a name, ‘WooHoo’. That sound was then turned into a brand device, and it ensured the phrase burst forth from a bold bright orange speech bubble and was always underpinned by ‘NZ Tax Refunds’ for credibility. This was then used across every possible touch point—from advertising to business cards and compliment slips, to branded cars and building signage.
The creative campaign included TVCs, online banners, radio, social media and sponsorship (the Christchurch-based business sponsors The Crusaders, which includes ‘WooHoo’ featuring on the big screen at the ground at every home try). Each creative execution bought to life different WooHoo moments, like the ‘better not let the girlfriend know’ WooHoo, the ‘thought no-one was watching’ WooHoo, the ‘maintain a professional air’ WooHoo, or the ‘already spent it’ WooHoo. The call to action across all material became ‘Do you have a WooHoo waiting?’ But it was more than just an ad campaign. It was a marketing idea that was completely integrated into every part of the business—both customer facing and internal—to the point where new staff now go through ‘WooHoo training school’.
The campaign met all its objectives, with ten percent growth in brand awareness against the total category moving it from fourth to first equal, and a 210 percent increase in word-of-mouth awareness. Website traffic also increased dramatically, with a 260 percent uplift in total web visits (a 174 percent above target) and a 219 percent uplift in unique visitors (136 percent above target). This led to a 67 percent increase in total customers year on year, and a 194 percent increase in total online customers (44 percent over-achievement of the target). Revenue growth between April and June 2012 was up 94 percent year on year and current figures for 2013 show a 38 percent increase in total customers in 2013. The success of the campaign has also changed the category. Previously the battleground had been a highly tactical one of low-budget radio and digital. But after seeing the results NZ Tax Refunds achieved, several key competitors upped their game in 2013, hiring ad agencies and launching humorous TV campaigns of their own.