Won­der­fully ENERGISED

The bat­ter­ies in the old Mer­cury brand had be­come a lit­tle flat, so the mar­ket­ing team de­cided it was time to give the busi­ness a jolt of new (won­der­ful) en­ergy.

New Zealand Marketing - - Insight Creative -

To say the en­ergy mar­ket is over- sup­plied would be an un­der­state­ment. There are 35 power com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing across New Zealand, all of­fer­ing slight vari­a­tions on ex­actly the same prod­uct. In light of this, the lo­cal mar­ket has come to be re­garded as one of the most com­pet­i­tive in the world and this plays out with power com­pa­nies adopt­ing ag­gres­sive pric­ing strate­gies as they vie against each other for busi­ness. And as cus­tomers bounce from com­pany to com­pany in search of the best deal, an­nual in­dus­try churn has risen to an av­er­age of 20 per­cent per an­num.

Around a year ago, the mar­ket­ing team be­hind Mer­cury En­ergy felt that they had to find a way to of­fer more than just price. The prob­lem, how­ever, was that the old setup of Mer­cury En­ergy re­tail­ing elec­tric­ity and its par­ent Mighty River Power gen­er­at­ing it had lost salience with con­sumers. While both brands were well es­tab­lished and trusted, they were con­sid­ered old-fash­ioned and tra­di­tional. This an­tiq­uity was per­haps best sum­marised by the old Mer­cury En­ergy logo, which fea­tured the Ro­man God Jupiter wield­ing a light­ning bolt. It just wasn’t quite as rel­e­vant as it once was. What’s more is that con­sumers couldn’t con­nect the dots be­tween the two or­gan­i­sa­tions; de­spite de­pend­ing on one another, Mer­cury and Mighty River Power were seen as in­de­pen­dent com­pa­nies.

Mer­cury chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer Ju­lia Jack knew that if the com­pany was to ex­tend its com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage be­yond price, the team would need to ame­lio­rate the lack of salience and co­he­sive­ness in the brand.

More than a logo

Re­brand­ing ef­forts can some­times be re­duced to sim­ply slap­ping a new logo onto an ex­ist­ing brand and leav­ing ev­ery­thing else un­changed. How­ever, this was not such a case. From the out­set, Jack and her team knew they had to do more than re­tire the long- serv­ing Ro­man God. So, they set out to com­pletely trans­form what the brand rep­re­sented and give New Zealan­ders some­thing they could ac­tu­ally be­lieve in.

Mighty River Power and Mer­cury were con­flated un­der a sin­gle ban­ner, re­mov­ing all doubt that the com­pa­nies were re­lated. The old brand liv­ery was re­placed by a slick new de­sign, fea­tur­ing a sim­ple illustration of a bee. And the com­pany rolled out an eye-catch­ing cam­paign that starred a young New Zealand woman eas­ily nav­i­gat­ing the nation’s hilly terrain with the help of an e-bike. None of th­ese de­ci­sions were ran­dom.

“We built the brand and all the things we are de­liv­er­ing un­der it by ask­ing our cus­tomers what they wanted from Mer­cury, and we en­gaged them every step of the way – in­clud­ing choos­ing our bee logo,” Jack re­cently said in a state­ment cel­e­brat­ing the first year of the new brand.

The sym­bol of the bee along with the e- bike played beau­ti­fully into Mer­cury’s po­si­tion­ing as a power com­pa­nies that re­lies only on re­new­able en­ergy sources. It was a clas­sic cre­ative ex­am­ple of show­ing rather than telling. Mer­cury showed it cared by plac­ing em­pha­sis on a crea­ture in­te­gral to en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity and by be­com­ing a cham­pion of e- bikes.

This nar­ra­tive was tied to­gether un­der the new slo­gan ‘En­ergy Made Won­der­ful’, an in­fec­tiously pos­i­tive plat­form that strives to show how sus­tain­able en­ergy can make the world a bet­ter place.

Sweet, sweet suc­cess

Look­ing at the re­sults, it’s some­what fit­ting that Mer­cury chose the bee as its sym­bol be­cause the new brand is re­ally work­ing its butt off for the com­pany. Within the first 12 months, Mer­cury has beaten every ob­jec­tive set to mea­sure the suc­cess of the brand: aware­ness, con­sid­er­a­tion, lik­a­bil­ity, pos­i­tive sen­ti­ment, cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, ac­qui­si­tion, staff en­gage­ment, web­site vis­its, in­ter­ac­tion, en­gage­ment and prod­uct at­tach­ment.

Th­ese mea­sures have also trans­lated into com­mer­cial suc­cess, with Mer­cury achiev­ing a net gain of over 18,000 cus­tomer con­nec­tions in the 12 months through to June 2017— a mas­sive turn­around for a com­pany that was los­ing cus­tomers be­fore then.

Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion is also at an all- time high, and the com­pany cur­rently has the low­est cus­tomer switch­ing rate in the mar­ket. While the in­dus­try av­er­age still sits at around 19.8 per­cent, Mer­cury’s churn rate has dropped to 13.5 per­cent. To put the value of this into per­spec­tive, each per­cent­age point un­der the in­dus­try av­er­age ac­counts for $ 1.2 mil­lion in avoided re­place­ment costs (to­talling $ 7.6 mil­lion).

“Our cus­tomers are vot­ing with their feet by choos­ing to stay with us in record num­bers,” Jack says. “That’s the real sign that our brand and how we put it into ac­tion is hit­ting the mark.”

Be­yond the ini­tial buzz

When the new brand first launched, Jack said that she wanted to “flip the in­dus­try model” and show that it was pos­si­ble to keep cus­tomers loyal in spite of the con­stant price wars. The re­ten­tion fig­ures at the brand cer­tainly sug­gest that the com­pany has achieved that. But Jack knows that as quickly as the in­dus­try can be flipped one way, it can also bounce back to what it once was. For this rea­son, the team isn’t rest­ing on its lau­rels just yet.

“We’ll con­tinue to build on the work we’ve al­ready done but, above all, we’ll keep ask­ing and lis­ten­ing to our cus­tomers so we can con­tinue to make en­ergy won­der­ful for them,” Jack says.

The point she makes here is that even the best brands re­quire con­tin­u­ous work. Rel­e­vance is a fluid con­cept that can de­part al­most as quickly as it ar­rived. For the Mer­cury brand to re­main as en­gag­ing as it cur­rently is, the mar­ket­ing team will have to build on the foun­da­tions they cur­rently have. And every ad­just­ment that’s made should al­ways be in­formed by what would im­prove the cus­tomer’s ex­pe­ri­ence.

Rest as­sured, the bee at the cen­tre is not quite done buzzing yet. There’s still work to do. For now, how­ever, the team can take some time out to find a lit­tle space on the man­tel­piece for the three Mar­ket­ing Awards tro­phies they’ve won for their ef­forts over the last year.

Our cus­tomers are vot­ing with their feet by choos­ing to stay with us in record num­bers. ­------- JU­LIA JACK

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