Having weathered tough times in recent years, Irish consumers now want practical but positive brand experiences to carry them into the future. In predicting trends set to change business this year, Kathy Troy a senior executive at planning agency MCCP, says if marketers are to guard equity they must build on brand strengths and consumer interaction.
Troy says a strong purpose is a brand's raison d'etre and has to be a marketing priority. As well as brand purpose, the strategic emphasis should be on product and service innovation and connecting with consumers as needs change. For some companies it may involve an overhaul of how they tackle innovation and make their brands more consumer friendly.
With economic indicators looking up, consumer sentiment is at an eight-year high, buoyed by low inflation and improved job prospects. Some emigrants are returning and salary rises are in the pipeline. Like the flying shirts in the new Ikea ad, consumers are creating brands to "flock around them". The marriage equality referendum and street protests on water charges point to a more vocal and demanding consumer. Cultural flux is shaping trends and movements which quickly rise to prominence but just as rapidly fade away.
In such an environment, brands must be agile and quick to react without surrendering their core values. Some trends vanish overnight. The ice bucket challenge was a fad which lasted two weeks.
Brands like Penneys, with low-cost disposable fashion items, know how to connect with consumers as do pop-up shops and restaurants.
Decreasing attention spans means consumers are constantly looking for something novel. The US National Library of Medicine claims the average person has an attention span of eight seconds - a second less than a goldfish. Coca-Cola, Levi's, and Marks & Spencer have launched in-house labs and units to keep up with technology and test new ideas.
University of Oxford researchers say there's a 92pc chance that fast food preparation and serving will be automated in the coming decades - reminiscent of a scene from Woody Allen's 1973 movie Sleeper. A recent Pew Report expects robots to play a major role in healthcare, transport, logistics, customer service and home maintenance by 2025.
Marketers busy trying to 'crack digital' should note that consumers are now turning off - even teens are tiring of Facebook 24/7. The novelty of smartphones has worn off, sparked by the realisation of the high price people must pay. An appetite for mindfulness and of experiencing the moment, instead of recording it on phones, is catching on.
* TV3 is said to be considering a deal to broadcast this year's Irish Film & Television Academy Awards, aka the Iftas. RTE confirmed it won't be broadcasting the event, which costs €500,000. Ifta chief executive Aine Moriarty said RTE's decision was "disgraceful". Last year's show was widely criticised as "amateurish" and "a shambles". TV3 refused to comment on the Iftas speculation.
* Today FM's sixth annual Shave or Dye fundraiser is under way. Since its launch, Shave or Dye has raised €7.5m for the Irish Cancer Society. The station's marketing manager, Roisin Reilly, says people are being urged this year to sign up to 'Oh My' and share their bad hair selfies and photos on social media while donating €2. Today FM presenters taking part are Paul McLoone, Paula MacSweeney, Ian Dempsey, Louise Duffy Colm O'Sullivan, Teresanne O'Reilly, Dermot Whelan, Dave Moore, Ed Smith and Alison Curtis. Chemistry and Mindshare again created the ad campaign. Irish band The Minutes gave the go-ahead for its single Cherry Bomb to be used in the TV ad.
* Thinking big is the theme of a breakfast seminar co-hosted by An Post and Fundraising Ireland. Fiona Heffernan of An Post says ideas and insights on how fundraising bodies can get the best from their marketing activity will be shared.
The speakers are: Gerard O'Neill, Amárach; Damian O'Broin, Ask Direct; and Alan Clayton, creative director of Revolutionise, a UK agency specialising in non-profit fundraising. The seminar is in the Westbury Hotel at 7.30am next Thursday.
* Ignite Research Labs (IRL) has been rolled out by Core Media to deliver answers about brand tracking, balanced rates of charging for projects and ad testing. Director Mark Nolan says the agency's motto is "we approach everything with a question". An IRL survey found that while the over-50s are the most optimistic age group about economic prospects, 46pc of Irish people worry about money and half of all adults can't afford to save nowadays.
Michael Cullen is editor of Marketing.ie: firstname.lastname@example.org