For over a decade, Thankyou has been chasing a single idea – to be a sustainable social enterprise at global scale, making an impact around the world.
Thankyou has executed some truly unconventional and highly successful campaigns that led to their products being stocked by some of Australia’s biggest retailers. But on the way there, they faced some dark times.
It took Thankyou three years and a creative campaign to get their water stocked in 7-Eleven Australia in 2011. Then Australia’s two big supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, said no to stocking Thankyou products for 5 years, until a campaign backed by the power of the people solved that problem and they eventually said yes in 2013.
Before the pandemic, consumers spent US$63 trillion dollars on products each year. In that same world, there were 719 million people living in extreme poverty. The funding gap to end extreme poverty by 2030 was estimated at US$2.5 trillion dollars a year.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, the rich got richer, including Thankyou, who made AU$10 million dollars in profit from their hand sanitiser and hand wash. Although, Thankyou’s story is different. 100% of Thankyou’s profits were donated to help alleviate extreme poverty bringing their total raised to date to over AU$17.57 million dollars.
So how has Thankyou used unconventional campaigns and product innovation to keep their mission in sight?
What Happened to Thankyou?
On the 17th May 2023, Thankyou posted on Instagram. A simple black image with white writing that said, ‘What’s happened to Thankyou?’.
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‘No new retail product launches in 650 days’ the caption continued.
‘No new category launches in 5 years. Product withdrawing from New Zealand, the one country launched outside of Australia. Shelf space diminishing in Australian supermarkets. Products unavailable on shelves in supermarkets due to short supply. Oh, and what about that campaign, No Small Plan?’
‘At Thankyou, things have been quiet on the outside for some time, but that’s about to change.’
I had the pleasure of seeing Thankyou co-founder, Daniel Flynn, speak at the launch of Waterman Business Centres back in 2017. That night he was promoting his book ‘Chapter One’ that launched the year before.
In the first two hours of the book launch, Thankyou sold it at a ‘pay-what-you-want’ price, raising $360,000 in profit. By day 28, they had raised 1.44 million dollars in profit. The least amount paid for the book was five cents. The highest paid was $50,000 one year after all the hype died down. 100% of the profits of ‘Chapter One’ funded chapter two of Thankyou; Thankyou Baby and Thankyou New Zealand.
In 2016, they launched Thankyou Baby in Australia and Thankyou New Zealand. Over time, they realised they couldn’t just turn up and sneak their way into a category. When they turn up, brands are ready. Every local brand, small and big, does everything they can when another brand penetrates the market. Thankyou lacked scale and investment to win against the big players, even though all the potential was there.
“We were trying to innovate in multiple spaces. We couldn’t hold growth,” Daniel said. “And if you’re not growing in the fast-moving consumer goods industry, you’re in trouble.”
In 2018, Thankyou launched an internal project called ‘Project Salvation’. They knew if they didn’t get it right on the inside, Thankyou would not reach its potential.
They pulled apart the business model and looked at the areas only they could do – the things they could speak on and provide thought leadership on. Then they looked at the areas that challenged them – the things they couldn’t do well, even when throwing money and a team at it. They decided these areas were where they could outsource.
Daniel often speaks about being on the edge of burnout while reading a book in New Zealand. He says this book was the turning point for ‘Project Salvation’.
The key takeaway from the book was that 95% of what you do as a leader, can be done by someone else. And 5% only you can do. I did a little digging and I think that ‘Man Up’ by Bedros Keuilian may be the book he was referring to. Bedros discusses the 5% rule in more detail in this Forbes article.
So, Thankyou pondered the question, what’s our 5%?
They were doing everything in-house in their Collingwood office. They had a creative team of 10, finance team of 10+, etc. So, they identified the parts that only they could do. These were:
- The vision, mission, values and strategy
- How they give the funds, who they give to, and the impact it makes
- Ideation and brand curation – the initial stages of product development
- Storytelling – Marketing the Thankyou story
- Partner selection, structuring and management
From here, they decided to find a network of highly integrated partners to outsource everything else, including creative, design, retailer management, supply chain, new product development, e-commerce, product marketing, finance, and people and culture.
Thankyou’s team will be stripped back from 100s (with the possibility of becoming 1000s) to a key team of 20-30 people focusing on that 5%.
In 2019, they set the strategy and began the project of finding the partners to help with the other 95%.
No Small Plan
In September 2020, Thankyou launched a campaign ‘No Small Plan’ aimed at partnering with P&G and Unilever to make and distribute Thankyou products, similar to how Nespresso make and distribute Starbucks. It was a worldwide campaign that asked people ‘Who’s in?’. They sent two large glass trucks with the words “Hey P&G/Unilever, are you in?” followed by “#thankyoutotheworld”. Thankyou sent that same invitation to nine of the big two’s direct competitors.
The campaign received 825 media features across 36 countries with 2.67 billion media impressions. However, the big two don’t partner with companies, they buy companies, so they said no. Even the nine direct competitors wanted equity in Thankyou. But as Daniel put it, “Thankyou just can’t be sold”.
Thankyou has now partnered with Marx Creative for product design, Per Capita for research, Pattern, a global ecommerce accelerator, to help with their direct to consumer (D2C) management, and Parve for supply chain and procurement.
Over the next three years, Thankyou and their network of partners are aiming to get the brand into a market of 2.69 billion, from 23 million, across Australia, Europe, Asia, UAE and the US. They are still looking for partners in South America.
On the 17th of May 2023, Thankyou started teasing the launch of their new campaign, or as they like to call it, their next chapter, ‘Thankyou, Reimagined’.
To find their way through, they had to reimagine everything they do and HOW they do it, as well as how they thought about the future. The one thing that remains the same is their WHY, their mission to end extreme poverty. The whole reason they do what they do is to get funding to the parts of the world that need it the most.
On the 22nd of May 2023, Thankyou invited people to become a part of their launch team (called ‘allteam’) by joining them virtually at their launch event. They wanted to invite people ‘inside’ before they launched their ideas to the outside.
The launch event was held on the 6th of June 2023 at 8:00pm AEST and I jumped online to see what all the hype was about. During the event, Daniel talked all things Thankyou history and shared their new path forward, including product launches.
Today, they began the launch of about 40 new products across Coles, Woolworths, Chemist Warehouse, Big W and independent grocery with a bold rebrand.
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Personal Care, Reimagined
Thankyou has stuck to their #1 rule, ‘make great product’. Their personal care range is what they are most known for.
Currently, the premium end of the category is saturated with amber bottles and sleek design following in Thankyou’s footsteps. They now all have a similar shape, same pump and amber, or dark, bottle colour meaning brands are more interchangeable. Thankyou’s visual advantage has been lost.
Their goal for ‘Thankyou, Reimagined’ is to create a product that stands the test of time. A product that is a statement forever. That will sit in your bathroom or laundry as something you don’t replace.
The result was the ‘Forever Bottle’.
The ‘Forever Bottle’
The design inspiration for Thankyou’s ‘Forever Bottle’ was a utilitarian approach focusing on functionality, simplicity, and beauty. For the material, they chose a recycled aluminium bottle from Spain that comes in black with a bespoke lid with ‘all for humanity, all for the end of extreme poverty’ embossed on the top.
The bottles come packaged in a box to avoid damage, mimicking the experience of unboxing an Apple product. It’s clever, creative, and innovative.
They’ve also steered away from their typical all black packaging and have released white packaging to suit those with a lighter interior design in their home.
Another key focus for the product redesign was sustainability. They wanted to design for circularity. The ‘Forever Bottles’ are backed by a 100% recycled and recyclable HDPE refill system.
They have also combined the hand and body wash into the one formula, creating value and simplicity.
As with most rebrands and product redesigns, there will be a price increase, which Daniel explains is partly due to inflation, but mostly, the result of a better-quality product and better value for money through a more cost effective refill system.
The Everyday Range
One thing that got me a little confused about this launch was that despite all the hype around this product being a redesign due to saturation in the amber bottle market, they are keeping their amber bottle within their everyday range as a prefilled option. The aluminium ‘Forever Bottle’ will not be filled, making it a standalone décor product that you must purchase with refills.
So, if Thankyou are still using the old amber bottles in their everyday range, does this really deserve the hype as a revolutionary redesign or is the ‘Forever Bottle’ simply a new product? Why are people going to choose a hand and/or body wash bottle with a company’s branding on it when they could just get a fancy one from a homeware store?
We believe the main reason is that Thankyou isn’t just any company or a product. Thankyou is a brand, an experience, and an extension of a consumer’s identity. According to 5WPR’s 2020 Consumer Culture Report, 83% of millennials want companies’ values to align with their own. They want to be associated with brands they believe contribute to social good.
Woolworths has unfortunately decided to only stock the everyday range of prefilled bottles, whereas Coles and Chemist Warehouse will offer the refills and ‘Forever Bottles’.
Thankyou has also released other products outside of their Personal Care range.
Cleaning and Deodorant, Reimagined
Thankyou has also released a new home cleaning range and expanded their personal care range with a 100% natural deodorant.
The deodorant is a 48-hour antiperspirant delivered in a design-led, sustainable refill system. Refillable deodorant has never before existed in mainstream consumerism or supermarkets and is one I am particularly excited about.
To kick off their new home cleaning range, Thankyou has released a 100% natural, hospital grade disinfectant. The cleaning product will get rid of viruses, germs, and bacteria in your home without the need for hazardous chemicals.
The disinfectant can be used as a floor and window cleaner or simply a universal cleaner for glass, upholstery, tiles, kitchens, and bathrooms. It can be diluted with water making it one of Australia’s most affordable cleaners.
It’s a cruelty-free, plant-based formula that is safe around food, suitable for sensitive skin, free from aluminium, and biodegradable. Above all, it also comes with its own ‘Forever Bottle’ with 100ml refills.
Image source: Thankyou
The Thankyou launch continues…
Thankyou will continue to roll out their new products over the next few weeks and plan to launch their new website and e-commerce store on the 4th July.
They will be running exclusive tours and tasks at The Inside Store between 13-22 June. The Inside Store will open its doors on 30th June, with the exclusive launch of The Inside collection (brand merch).
Additionally, Thankyou is teasing the launch of ‘Glass Forever Bottles’.
Keen to help Thankyou with launching these ideas to the outside? Head to the roadmap on their homepage at for a full rundown of what’s coming over.