Wonga: Festive Spending campaign

Following the closure of Wonga’s UK business, the Festive Spending Campaign allowed Wonga SA to gain widespread publicity and show that it was still a leading voice in the financial services industry. The Friday Street Club helped us develop a survey that would generate findings that were interesting and relevant to our audiences. The quality of these findings, as well as The Friday Street Club’s efforts to promote them, meant that the results of our research spread like wildfire, reaffirming our continued presence as a leader in the lending space.
— James William, Head of Marketing at Wonga SA
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Wonga challenged us to develop a PR campaign that, with zero budget, could create massive reach and engagement.

A simple survey was created and distributed across the country. The response was overwhelming, and the findings were incredible. These findings were translated into easy to understand and amusing information and shared with the nation, helping to secure Wonga’s position as a stable business and industry leader.

A literature review showed us that every year the issue of Christmas spending gets wide-spread attention in the media, with media coverage often focusing how much people spend, what they spend it on and how they cope with the extra financial burden.

 We also found that most commentary published during December either cited statistics from previous years or relied on expert opinion. Empirical data about consumer spending during Christmas is only generally released early the following year.

However, with consumer budgets under strain as a result of VAT and petrol price increases, spending during 2018 was likely to show some differences.

Rather than waiting for the results of retrospective analysis carried out after the fact, we decided to conduct our own research drawing on survey data from a sample that would be representative of South African society as a whole.

To inform Wonga’s festive spending predictions, a survey was sent to Wonga’s expansive consumer database and distributed via Facebook posts.

In order to draw inferences about the population as a whole, it was important to get a representative sample. Therefore, it was determined that we needed over 1 000 respondents who represented a range of genders, ages and socioeconomic statuses

 We received an overwhelming total of 6 858 responses. Respondents ranged from 18 to 64 years of age and there was a good mix of both males (43%) and females (57%). Income levels ranged from R0 to over R50 000 per month, with majority earning between R10 000 and R20 000, similar to the average national salary of R19 858.

 Satisfied that we had a representative sample, we were able to make the following inferences:

  •  South African were set to spend R200 billion over the festive season.

  • They were to spend on average R5 706 each over this period.

  • Food and drink, travel, gifts and entertainment add the most strain to budgets.

  • Half of South Africans rely on a thirteenth cheque or bonus to tide them over the festive season.

  • Almost a third of South Africans wouldn’t travel over the festive season due to rising expenses.

  • Brick-and-mortar shops still prove more popular than online shops.

  • Cash and vouchers found to be most popular gifts.

The story spread like wildfire and in total we received 66 pieces of coverage that reached an audience of over 52.6 million people. There was no doubt that Wonga South Africa was firmly back in the limelight.

However, the quality of coverage should be measured rather by its ability to reach key audiences and cement Wonga’s ongoing presence as an expert in the short-term lending space. Over 70% of our media coverage was in our tier one media as national, regional and community news titles in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban

The widespread coverage ensured that their findings were presented as significant, engaging and original, providing new insights into consumer spending.

Our statistic of “South Africans spending R200 billion over the festive season” became a key statistic that was mentioned almost daily on broadcast news shows over this period, as a central fact to this new story

And in all media coverage, Wonga was presented as credible and a leading voice on spending over this peak shopping period.