Spending seachange as recovery takes hold
Improved consumer sentiment and behaviours shows the nation is coping better and easing off the breaks imposed during the recession. There are also positive shifts in personal circumstances and a belief in better times ahead, the latest report in a three-year study by ad agency Irish International shows.
Now two years into the Mood & Momentum project, the fourth wave of quantitative and qualitative research conducted in August by Amárach, reflects how people's moods and outlooks are changing. Economic indicators show Ireland is recovering, with unemployment down and retail sales, consumer sentiment and GDP up.
Irish International planner Leo Moore says there's an easing off in the effort Irish people feel they need to make in managing their personal finances and household budgets.
While savvy shoppers are still driven by discounts and deals, consumers do not appear to be as obsessed with chasing value.
Brand loyalty is on the rise, while consumer regard for private labels is down. After years of abstinence, big item purchases like cars and furniture are back on shopping lists, indicating pent-up demand. A greater interest in buying clothes shows a return to more relaxed spending.
While consumers accept money can't buy happiness or healthy relationships, levels of disposable income either enable or inhibit socialising. Some consumers felt so restricted by their finances in recent years, they didn't meet up with friends or family as they felt embarrassed by their circumstances.
Concerns about personal health and staying fit have grown as priorities across society. Consumers want to be better informed about health issues - eating well and staying fit. While people have more time to see the mental and physical benefits of a balanced diet and being active, they believe marketers could do more to provide health information and promote better choices.
Mental health is now seen as Ireland's biggest concern, ahead of obesity, alcohol abuse, cancer, smoking and heart disease. Visits to the gym, mindfulness, yoga/pilates, meditation, walking and jogging are the most popular activities.
Consumers have a dysfunctional relationship with technology. A rise in 'de-teching' is driven by the young, tech-savvy cohorts with almost one in four now unplugging from technology at least once a day.
Irish International rated 112 brands that help make people happy and optimistic and are seen as helpful and trustworthy. Happy brands include the GAA, 7Up, Pepsi and Barry's Tea.
Not surprisingly, financial services and political parties are the nation's least happy brands.
Helpful brands include Google, An Post, Bus Eireann, SuperValu, Aldi, Lidl and Aer Lingus. The Credit Union, Avonmore, Ballygowan and BMW are highly trusted brands.
The survey showed most consumers think in categories and assign similar characteristics to brands, so there's merit in breaking category codes to get cut-through.
* With Volkswagen running press ads in Ireland aimed at helping repair the huge damage done by the news that as many as 11m diesel vehicles were fitted with software designed to fool emissions testers has dealt a hammer blow not just to VW's worldwide reputation but to the entire German nation brand. UK brand valuation agency Brand Finance says Germany has lost its position as the most powerful nation brand, with its value dropping by 4pc, or US$191bn on last year, to US$4.2 trillion.
German industry is known for its efficiency and reliability, while German people are widely regarded as hard-working, honest and law abiding. That such an iconic German brand - VW, the 'people's car' - could behave in this way is undoing decades of carefully accumulated goodwill and casts aspersions over the practices of German industry, making the Siemens bribery scandal appear less a one-off than evidence of a broader malaise, Brand Finance adds. Singapore now replaces Germany as the world's top nation brand. Pictured above is a recent VW poster campaign for the Irish market created by Owens DDB.
* The search for Ireland's top marketer is at an advanced stage. Three finalists have now been selected by the Marketer of the Year judges. Heineken's Fiona Curtin for the roll out of the new Orchard Thieves cider, Brian Keating of AIB for his 'Brave' work and Tom Keogh of Keogh's Crisps have made the interview stage. The winner will be announced at an industry lunch in Dylan McGrath's Fade Street Social restaurant in November. The judging panel is chaired by UCD Smurfit Business School marketing professor, Dr Damien McLoughlin, pictured.
* Time magazine included a letter from an Irish woman on the coverage afforded to outspoken Republican presidential hopeful and Doonbeg owner Donald Trump in an article entitled 'The Donald Has Landed'. Noreen O'Donovan Hage from Ballydehob wrote: "How on earth did you manage to find not just one but six separate shots of Trump with his mouth shut?"
Michael Cullen is editor of Marketing.ie: firstname.lastname@example.org