Wednesday 28 September 2016

Getting inside the minds of consumers

Michael Cullen

Published 11/02/2016 | 02:30

Kathy Troy MCCP
Kathy Troy MCCP

Irish consumers are for the most part confident and proud while at the same time somewhat uncertain about what's in store. Ireland is surrounded by change and not all of it comforting, marketers attending a talk on trends for 2016 by planning agency MCCP were told.

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A current trend can go from 'new' to 'nearly over' before you can say fad.

MCCP's Kathy Troy, main picture, says marketers are more interested in what underpins trends, allowing brands staying power and impacts on consumers.

As well as voting for marriage equality, last year was about Isis attacks on western values, the Syrian refugee crisis, VW's emissions scandal and the Berkeley balcony tragedy.

This year starts with much to be scared about, from Donald Trump to an alphabet of named storms. China's economic slowdown continues while 'Brexit' may beckon. But the resilience of Irish people shines as social media users make RTE news presenter Teresa Mannion an overnight 'stormtrooper'.

Germany's football manager Joachim Low said this summer's Euros in France are richer for Ireland qualifying.

With the Rising centenary, some people can't get their heads around republicanism old and new. Yet as RTE's 'Rebellion' mini-series shows, the men and women of 1916 were an idealistic group from many backgrounds.

The green debate rolls on. After embracing recycling, Ireland's on to the third wave. With water at our ankles, we know there's a need for action. Consumers don't reward brands for being green. They expect their electric car to be recharged as a payback for being eco warriors. Brands which don't empower green consumers will be punished, Troy added.

As concerns over landfill grow, marketers should help people dispose of their old clothes. Captains of industry are backing climate change initiatives. MCCP's Shane Doyle says Irish people felt the floods emotionally. But the public mood shifted to more practical issues - fears of new taxes and insurance hikes.

As consumers ask more questions about what they eat and drink, food brands must focus on natural ingredients. Even PepsiCo rolled out Stubborn soft drink using Fair Trade sugar and natural flavours instead of high fructose corn syrup.

Marketers should help consumers feel more balanced by being more authentic and ignoring make-up selfies.

Balance isn't being skinny, it's about moderation. Technology is now part of everyday life. Only people who work for the likes of Google speak about tech.

Fashion and beauty brands are turning to 3D printing. But marketers should care less about the technology and more about the outcome. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is all well and good but brands shouldn't do it merely as a box ticking exercise. Marketing isn't only about creating external demand, brands must get things right internally.

* Ogilvy senior art director Emmet Mullins designed the €2 coin issued by the Central Bank to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. A total of 4.5 million of the commemorative €2 coins will be minted. It is the first time Ireland is releasing its own commemorative €2 coin marking an event in Irish history. Mullins says 2016 is not just about marking the events of Easter 1916, it's also about looking at everything that has happened since in Ireland.

Atop the GPO stands the statue of Hibernia - still looking forward but yet a symbol of the past, present and future of this country.

Her name was taken from the Latin for Ireland and her form was created by the sculptor John Smyth. The coin's hand-rendered lettering style is inspired by the Book of Kells.

* With electioneering in full flow, party members have been well drilled on the do's and don'ts of canvassing. Apart from closing gates behind them and not letting dogs run amok, canvassers are warned to avoid house calls on Champions League nights. They should also know how important it is not to disturb people watching their favourite soap. With so many week night dramas on these days, it's a task fraught with fear. Canvassers could find themselves caught between a Red Rock and a Corrie hard place. Undoubtedly, the most striking ad out there so far is Chemistry's Fine Gael poster, decrying the last Fianna Fáil-led government with a ghost estate.

* A rise in advertised jobs in PR points to the business moving in the right direction. The Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) members' ezine shows recruitment last year was up by 82pc on 2014, with 167 positions advertised as against 92 the year before. Recruitment was evenly sustained throughout the year.

Executive level recruitment was up 58pc year on year, manager level rose by 70pc and director level up by as much as 475pc. The handsome increase in director recruitment signals confidence in both agency and in-house PR. Agency hiring was only slightly higher at 53pc than in-house. The data is based on PRII job ads.

Michael Cullen is editor of marketing.ie; cullen@marketing.ie

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