Modern Marketing Brand Purpose

Giffgaff chief executive on 2022 priorities: ‘People, planet and profit’

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By Ellen Ormesher | Reporter

December 13, 2021 | 5 min read

In the 12 years since it launched, Giffgaff has become known as the foremost customer-led mobile network in the UK. As its customer base continues to grow, chief executive Ash Schofield tells The Drum what we can expect from the brand going forward.

GiffGaff

12 years after it launched, Giffgaff is still prioritizing its customers, says chief executive Ash Schofield

When Giffgaff first launched in the UK in 2009, Ash Schofield says the telco industry was “neck and neck with banking when it came to customer satisfaction – and banks didn’t exactly have a good reputation at the time.”

Often described as a ‘customer-led’ brand, Schofield says Giffgaff’s commercial manifesto was more accurately founded on ‘mutuality’ – meaning that the mobile network strives to maintain transparency with its member base and communicate with them to meet their needs. “It better describes the meeting of minds that we look to maintain with our customers. Not only does it promote creativity, but accountability for us too. It’s a community to collaborate with, as well as one that challenges us. That’s the one thing that’s never really changed.”

He says this encompasses everything from Giffgaff’s membership scheme (which does not lock customers into contracts) to its creative advertising that features its own customers in line with its founding principles. “And we’ve got 3.7 million users and growing. We’re the most recommended we’ve ever been and more recognizable than ever before. It’s great validation that our founding principles are still working for people.”

Connected during Covid-19

Schofield says that Giffgaff’s brand purpose came particularly to the fore during the pandemic as the network’s digital-first, no-contact setup allowed people to sign up quickly at a time of precarity.

“During Covid, our network took the pressure off of people and if they couldn’t afford a package on a month-to-month basis then our partnership with Neighbourly meant we could help people stay connected during what was a difficult time.”

He adds that the Neighbourly partnership also saw it encourage donations from customers who could afford it, meaning that Giffgaff could make a contribution to local communities particularly disrupted by the lockdowns. “You can’t underestimate the power of connectivity at a time like that.”

Despite 2020 being a difficult year, Giffgaff still achieved revenue growth, reaching £500m for the first time.

People, planet and profit

Schofield stresses that the emphasis Giffgaff places on its customer base means that the brand is always accountable to its users. “At the end of the day, it’s good for business too,” he says.

Earlier this year, Giffgaff became one of the first networks to cater to the deaf community in the UK by releasing an ad entirely in British Sign Language (BSL).

Schofield says that it is imperative to Giffgaff that it continues to address the unmet needs of its consumer base, or it risks losing touch. He adds this accountability not only applies to its DE&I initiatives, but to its sustainability commitments too. “It means we have to keep ourselves honest and think about the impact Giffgaff has on the planet, and grow in a way that is sustainable.”

Giffgaff offers phone refurbishment as part of its services; Schofield says this plays directly into Giffgaff’s ‘people, planet and profit’ focus.

“At the end of the day it drives this outcome, as refurbishments are not only a value-lead choice as they don’t contribute to waste, but customers can also get a really good deal, making phones and connectivity more affordable.

“We have chosen to pursue more sustainable ways of driving growth, we believe in community and in pushing ourselves to do better. We hope that anyone who feels the same will come join us.”

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