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A Day in the Life of... Caroline Donnellan, Head of Marketing, Insights and Propositions at KBC Bank

Posted By The Marketing Institute, 01 November 2017
Updated: 31 October 2017

caroline donnellan kbc bank

The Marketing Institute: What does a Head of Marketing, Insights and Propositions do? 

Caroline Donnellan: KBC Bank Ireland is still a relatively new player in the Irish retail banking market, so a crucial part of my role in marketing is driving brand awareness of the bank. As a challenger bank, I need to ensure that our brand stands out in consumers’ minds and I am always pushing the boundaries and looking at new ways of doing things.

My core responsibility is driving KBC's marketing campaigns and propositions accross our different product lines from current accounts to mortgages. In order to do this successfully, I am constantly keeping ahead of customer insights and ensuring that my team and I are listening to consumers’ needs.

 

MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

C.D: After studying Marketing Management in college, I started my career in the banking sector. I now have over fifteen years’ experience across the banking industry. Before joining KBC I spent over 10 years in marketing for another retail bank.

I joined KBC five years ago at a critical time as the bank was transforming into a full-service retail bank. My previous background in retail banking was a great asset in helping to drive forward our marketing plans and help build KBC's brand at a difficult time in the banking industry in Ireland. 

So far in my marketing career—I have held a number of roles across marketing and communications. Working across different aspects within the KBC marketing department has provided me with valuable experience in building brands, managing the bank’s reputation and growing consideration for the brand and our diverse range of financial products, all of which are key to my current role.

Before joining KBC, in a previous role I was responsible for implementing a new customer engagement programme. This gave me a real appreciation of the importance of customer experience and always having the customer voice in the room—a valuable lesson that is now key in driving our business at KBC.

 

MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

C.D: KBC is a challenger brand—at KBC we do banking differently. Challengers displace the norm and as a challenger brand you can find that new ideas get copied very quickly. A key challenge is to recognise when it is time to refresh your identity, spirit and character. For me it is critical that we evolve the brand and proposition for consumers on an on-going basis to ensure that we keep the ‘challenger’ in challenger bank. You need to constantly question, challenge and be different if you want to hold that title of challenger.

Another challenge I have faced over the course of my time marketing the KBC brand is building brand awareness. KBC entered the retail banking sector with limited consumer awareness. It’s been a big challenge to build brand presence in Ireland since we launched as a retail bank back in 2013. We constantly need to work hard to cut through and appeal to consumers. Our new national brand campaign which launched in September does just that. We are already seeing the impact it makes in supporting the business strategy and positioning for KBC. This year we welcomed our 250,000th customer, so despite the challenges it took to get to where we are today, seeing the results is a great validation of the work we do.  

 

MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

C.D: As I mentioned previously, KBC is a challenger brand in the retail banking sector and because of this we need to think about things differently. The key to this is being agile in our approach. You have to be resilient and 'don't accept no' or 'not possible' as an answer. The other key skills that I believe are needed to be effective in my role are problem solving and having a forward-looking attitude.

 

MII: Describe a typical working day.

C.D: At KBC, no two days are the same. My role is very varied and I love this about the job. I tend to come into the office early and spend some of this time planning for the busy day ahead. I thrive on being busy and planning my day is critical to ensure that I keep ahead of my workload.

A typical day consists of things like meeting my team to go through marketing campaigns and media strategies, shaping and building new customer propositions and working with a wide variety of teams across the bank. I remain very close to different teams across KBC as my role is to support these teams with marketing initiatives. A lot of my role involves working with agencies and thinking differently about how we speak with consumers in order to cut through the industry and continue to drive brand awareness.

At KBC we are constantly listening to what customers want from their bank and I am part of a number of groups internally where we look at customer insights. We just launched our new national brand campaign in September—during that brand launch a lot of my days were spent working with external agencies across advertising, digital, branding and social to ensure that we are getting our message out there to customers and building on KBC's position as a challenger brand.

 

MII: What do you love most about your role?

C.D: My role is constantly fast moving and busy and I love this. The pace and agility at which we move excites me and keeps my role very exciting. I am never working on just one thing and my role touches on a variety of disciplines.

As a challenger brand, we are constantly challenging how things should be done. We are always looking for new ways to engage with consumers through the propositions we build to the way we communicate with them through the media.

I started working in KBC just as we began our journey to launch a retail bank and I have been part of this journey right from the beginning. Being part of something new so early in a brand’s journey and seeing it through to where KBC is today has been a real adventure and seeing the bank's ambition come to life is very rewarding. There also has been a steep learning curve—I am still learning every day which is another reason why I love what I do.

 

MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

C.D: Working for a challenger brand like KBC has been such a steep learning curve so far and I expect this to continue in the coming years. I see my role continuing to change and evolve as KBC continues its push as a challenger brand in the banking industry.

We’re at an exciting time for the KBC brand within Ireland—we have reached a number of milestones so far this year with over 250,000 customers now having joined the bank; we’ve opened an Innovation Hub in Dublin and just launched our 24/7 contact centre and new digital account opening app that allows consumers open a current account and get banking in 5 minutes. We were the first bank in Ireland to launch Apple pay and Android pay and we will also be the first bank in Ireland to offer Fitbit Pay this month. And this is just the start—so there are lots of opportunities ahead for the brand and equally for my career in driving the marketing behind the bank with all the exciting plans we have ahead.

 

MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

C.D: Working for a challenger brand like KBC means it’s important to look outside our sector for inspiration. I look at what technology brands or fintechs are doing. Other challenger brands like Airbnb or Uber for example give me inspiration—the way they have turned the norm for their industry on its head and created a new way of doing things is something that drives my thought process. I also have a great team and internal mentors are always something I have sought in my career. I think it’s critical to have a sounding board and mentors that can guide you and help you when you need independent advice. I myself also feel it’s important to give back to my team and colleagues and try to mentor and support others around me and I'd encourage everyone to seek the advice of a mentor—sometimes mentors that are external to your department or business can offer you insights that challenge the way you think.

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A Day in the Life of... Maressa Mills, Customer Success Manager at Poppulo

Posted By The Marketing Institute, 17 October 2017

maressa mills poppulo

The Marketing Institute: What does a Customer Success Manager at Poppulo do? 


M.M:
Supporting our customers in realising their success is key to the role of a Customer Success Manager at Poppulo.  Our customers journey in achieving success is a core component of the role and ensures we are the trusted advisors for our customers within the Internal Communications Industry 

A key part of my role is building a solid partnership with my clients, understanding their challenges and objectives to ensure they achieve their goals through Poppulo. Also mapping out a Customer Success plan for customers from on-board, throughout their partnership with Poppulo. Ultimately it’s being the voice of the customer in Poppulo.

 

MII:  What were your key career moves to get to your current role?


M.M: Graduate of CIT, Honours Degree in Business & Marketing, and Higher Diploma in Public Relations. The good thing about completing a Business & Marketing degree is that it offers great flexibility in what career path you can follow. At the time when I was finishing up my degree there were really good graduate programmes out there. I was lucky enough to get shortlisted on IBEC's Export Orientation Programme, and worked in Waterford Crystal UK for a year on the Corporate Sales team. The qualifications I feel really helped to beef up the CV. I would recommend it to other graduates out there to help make your job application stand out from the crowd!

 

Following that, I worked in Catalyst Marketing Communications in Dublin for 5 years as an Account Manager on the mystery shopping team. I came across the role as I was already signed up as a mystery shopper with the company, completing undercover audits in retail stores in Cork! Very interesting role, which provided me with strong account management skills. It was always the plan to move back home to Cork, hence my reason for leaving. (They always come back!)

 

When the recession kicked in - and marketing & research positions were scarce and on a contract basis I was lucky enough to secure a contract position in Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland, on the Consumer Insights team for 18 months working on well-known Irish brands SuperValu and Centra. To further my skills, and also out of my personal interest in media and events, I went back to college in the evenings to complete a Higher Diploma in Public Relations in CIT and delighted to have secured an honours diploma to add to my qualifications.

 

During this time, I joined the Marketing Institute of Ireland and volunteered for the Cork committee - and my career highlights to follow were all gained from the strong connections made at our monthly events. One which brought me back agency side, working with H & A Marketing & PR as Account Manager across a range of blue chip organisations.
 

...and last but not least my current role as Customer Success Manager at Poppulo for the past three years. This came through an opportunity shared through CIT. My skillset up to then was quite varied but customer relationship management was at the heart of all of my roles leading up to it. Poppulo is genuinely a great place to work with a great team and strong culture, listed as one of Irelands Top 10 Great Places to Work 2017.

 

MII:  What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

M.M: Fitting everything into 1 day! We have so many great initiatives at Poppulo, outside of the day job. I had the opportunity of being part of an internal team focused on Great Places to Work Ireland for 2 years, and so proud to see Poppulo ranked in the Top 10 Places to Work in Ireland 2017. I'm also part of our Sports & Social team and really enjoy planning our monthly employee events, from monthly Pizza & Beer nights, Baking Bad, Summer BBQ’s, Christmas parties, sporting events..and bringing new ideas to the team.

I’m also proud to be Chair of The Marketing Institute of Ireland's local committee in Cork and recently began my tenure for the new season ahead. As a member of the committee for the past 6 years, I am always trying to master the art of finding more hours in the day! I’m very lucky to have a brilliant committee behind me however who each have amazing and varied skills to support the planning of our events for the year.

 

MII:  What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

M.M: A relevant degree, IT/Business, Communications, Marketing, 5+ years experience in a customer facing role. Experience in employee engagement, internal communications or corporate communications is a big advantage. Experience delivering solution and service recommendations to meet client business objectives. Technical aptitude and a good understanding of web technologies. Project Management skills and experience of working in a SaaS, B2B environment.

Outside of that, At Poppulo, I know our People Operations team focus strongly on finding the right culture fit, and a person who will naturally fit well within the team. If you are applying for a role here and feel you are right for the position this will naturally come across.

 

MII:  Describe a typical working day.

M.M: My days vary, I am never really dealing with the same thing every day which I enjoy. As the main point of contact for our clients and the organisation my day could comprise of anything from kicking off the onboarding of a new organisiation, from speaking with many of our existing international internal communications organisations, to coordinating Design and Technical services.

As an internal communications software company, there are many facets to the organisation. I collaborate cross functionally, with our Design, Support and Technical Services teams to bring customers on a journey with us and help them on communications projects that they are working on. I love seeing a project through from outset to completion and taking the customer on the journey of success that sets them up and gives them the autonomy to use the tool that best suits their communications needs.

 

MII:  What do you love most about your role?

M.M: Genuinely, it’s the people. Everyone gets on so well together, not only within our individual teams but cross functionally working with Design, Support, Technical Services, Engineering, IT and Finance. Because our People Operations team focus strongly on finding the right fit for the team culturally, I think this can be seen across the company.

 

MII:  Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

M.M: I feel as if I am in the next stage of my career journey at the moment. Although a voluntary position, I am honoured to have taken up the position as Chair of the Cork branch of the Marketing Institute.

Aside from my day job at Poppulo, as the main point of contact for our MII Cork committee my day could comprise of anything from holding committee meetings to brainstorm our next events, booking venues, catering and AV, securing sponsors and speakers. Communicating with our PR and social partners (Hopkins Communications and Zone Digital) on our campaigns and with our printing partners (B2B Print and B2B Signs) on signage, name badges etc. I would liaise with our print and radio sponsors (The Evening Echo and Cork’s 96FM and C103) on the advertising or with our hotel partner (Clayton Hotel Cork City) on booking in our speakers for overnights. It’s such a fun role and I’m grateful to have it in order to raise MII Cork’s profile as well as my own and Poppulo’s profile.      

With that, our next Marketing Institute event in Cork on 14th November, “What’s in a name”, will feature Poppulo’s Vice President of Marketing, Mairead Maher, who will outline the strategic thinking that led to the decision to rebrand from Newsweaver to Poppulo earlier this year, and how it was so much more than a name change. Booking will be open soon at www.mii.ie and early registration advised as it’s sure to be another sell out event.

 

MII:  To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

M.M: It may sound cliché but our CEO Andrew O’ Shaughnessy. Poppulo has gone through major growth over recent years with large expansion both in our Cork and Boston offices, with many new hires. It’s true that a company’s culture comes from the top down. Even with an employee number of over 160 now, Andrew has always taken time to organise individual meetings with each new hire to welcome to the company. As a speaker, at our annual client conferences and our monthly company presentations I take great inspiration from Andrew’s passionate presentations looking at the growth and future of the company and employee recognition. Andrew has been very supportive of my involvement with the Marketing Institute also and has passed on some really great advice for my year ahead.

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Dark Social: Why Irish Marketers need to wake up to the rise of social sharing through private channels

Posted By MediaCom, 17 October 2017

 

When we think of people sharing content, we often revert to Facebook. However, Facebook is, and has become, a channel of mass reach as its newsfeed has become geared more to boost Facebook’s commercial revenue streams rather than just help conversation. This is reflected in Mark Zuckerberg’s “family of apps” strategy to capture all kinds of sharing; one-to-one, one-to-few and one-to-many. So, what’s happening outside of sharing on Facebook?

‘Dark Social’ is a term coined by Alexis C. Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic, to describe the sharing of content that occurs outside of what can be measured by web analytics programmes. This mostly occurs when a link is sent via online chat or email, rather than shared over a social media platform, from which referrals can be measured.

Content & Connections agency, MediaCom Ireland and RadiumOne, the sharing analytics specialists, conducted quantitative research through iReach over Summer 2017, to gain an understanding into the type of content consumers are sharing through private and public channels and the underlying motivations for doing so.

Ian McGrath, MD of MediaCom Ireland said “The volume of content being shared away from sight, on dark social channels, is something which can’t be ignored. Monitoring what is being shared on Facebook and other public platforms is only one piece of the puzzle in understanding how content travels and is consumed.”


THE KEY HEADLINES

#1        Sharing online content is a popular activity: 66% of Irish people share content on Facebook.

#2        But not all sharing happens on Facebook: 4 of the top 5 platforms for sharing online content are private communication (dark social) channels (Email, Whatsapp, Text, Facebook Messenger)

#3        Tried and tested channels more popular with older consumers: Those aged 55+ are more likely than other age cohorts to share online content via Email / Text. 75% share via email and 57% via text. The indication here is that older consumers place greater trust in these well-established communication platforms.

#3        Maintaining privacy is the top reason for using ‘dark social’ channels: 63% of dark social users select this as the primary reason, rising to 74% of 55+ who demonstrate the greatest privacy concerns.

#4        Everybody’s got a dark side: We represent different sides of ourselves on different platforms. 29% of ‘dark social users’ use these channels for sharing content because they deem it to be ‘for smaller groups’. 29% of social media users share content privately for entertainment/a laugh, rising to 42% of 16-34s. Young people are also twice as likely (11% v 5%) as 35-54s to make fun of someone or something via private channels.

#5        Across almost every content category, Irish people are more likely to share content privately than publicly

#6        Different content types are more aligned with certain channels: RadiumOne data shows that Arts and Entertainment content is more broadly shared, while Personal Finance and Property content are solely shared by one-to-one means such as WhatsApp, text or email

#7        Word of Mouth recommendations & reviews are more likely to take place on private channels, after purchase.


DETAILED FINDINGS

Sharing online content is a popular activity, fuelled by Millennials

While 66% of Irish adults share content such as articles or images they’ve seen online via Facebook, it’s important to note that 4 of the top 5 content sharing channels are private channels (or ‘dark social’).

Young people (16-34s) are the most likely to share things they’ve seen online on every platform, with the exception of email and text/iMessage.

On these longer-established platforms, those aged 55+ are more likely than other age cohorts to share online content. 75% share via email and 57% via text. The indication here is that older consumers place greater trust in these platforms.

 

Using dark social channels allows people to present a different side of themselves

29% of social-media users share content privately because it’s for entertainment/a laugh. This rises to 42% of 18-34s compared to just 10% of 55+ and 35% of 35-54s.

While the percentages are small, young people (11%) are also twice as likely at 35-54s (5%) to make fun of someone or something privately and 4x more likely than 55+ (3%).

Across almost every content category, Irish people claim to share more content privately than publicly

Despite the 318 photos tagged with #Selfie on Instagram, photos, including selfies, are much more likely to be shared privately. Holiday/travel content, videos, sales/promotions, house/car content is also more likely to be shared privately.

…and actual data from RadiumOne’s tracking backs this up

RadiumOne data shows that, on average, across 16 categories, 73% of all content is shared via private (dark social) channels. We can see from the chart below that Arts and Entertainment content, as well as Home & Garden, is more broadly shared, while Personal Finance and Property are solely shared by personal means.

 

Word of Mouth recommendations & reviews are more likely to take place on private channels, after purchase

25% of Irish adults share content privately after making a purchase and 22% share content before making a purchase. Meanwhile, on public social media channels, 18% share content after purchase and 14% pre-purchase. This shows how important the conversations taking place on dark social channels are in the purchase journey.


Easy actions advertisers can take today to respond to Dark Social

  • Test & learn
  • Include referral tags (UTM codes or parameters) in all your own posting when using private sharing channels – typically copied and pasted links do not automatically include tracking tags in these channels (unless the shared link was copied with a tag included).
  • Review the direct traffic to your website for links without UTM parameters
  • Use shortened URLs for outbound links of your content.
  • Prioritise social share buttons on your website.
  • Link blog post titles to external content and webpages.
  • Use ‘dark social’ tools or partners to track traffic origins and their outcomes.

 

QUOTES ON THE FINDINGS AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS

Ian McGrath, Managing Director, MediaCom Ireland:

“For Irish advertisers, tagging and monitoring traffic from these dark social sources is becoming less murky, and we’ve seen many of these channels start to be commercialised. As a result, marketing through private sharing channels should be a more regular feature of a brand’s advertising and media strategy”.

Vicky Shekleton, Planning and Insights Manager, MediaCom Ireland:

“This study highlights that we need to think beyond Facebook when considering what content drives conversation and sharing. We now know that users share and consume different content across different private and public channels and there is an opportunity to differentiate marketing messages for these channels too. Generic AV copy may work on reach social media like Facebook but wouldn’t generate the same impact on dark social channels.”  

Toby Swire, Head of Regional Sales, RadiumOne

"Taking advantage of consumer sharing behaviours has thus far been a widely untapped resource by marketers. By analysing and acting upon consumer sharing signals, marketers get a real-time view into what consumers are interested in and where they are on their journey. This research confirms just how prevalent Dark Social sharing is across all age groups, and why marketers should take it seriously as a signal of intent when planning how best to reach audiences and with what messages."


SURVEY BACKGROUND

This MediaCom / RadiumOne survey was conducted amongst 1,281 consumers using iReach’s consumer decisions panel. Fieldwork for the study was conducted via online survey to a nationally representative panel in July 2017.

For more information, please contact Vicky Shekleton at Vicky.shekleton@mediacom.com or ian.mcgrath@mediacom.com   


ABOUT MEDIACOM IRELAND 

MediaCom is “The Content + Connections Agency”, working on behalf of its clients to leverage their brands’ entire system of communications across paid, owned and earned channels to deliver a step change in their business outcomes.  MediaCom is one of the world’s leading media communications specialists, with billings of US$33 billion (Source: RECMA June 2017), employing 7,000 people in 125 offices across 100 countries. Its global client roster includes: Dell, Coca-Cola (TCCC), Mars, NBC Universal, P&G, PSA, Sony, Shell and Richemont.  The agency was recently named Global Agency of the Year at the 2017 M&M Awards, an accolade it has been awarded 7 times in the past 9 years and FOM Global Agency Network of the Year in 2017, winning an unprecedented 18 awards.

 MediaCom is a member of WPP, the world's largest marketing communications services group, and part of GroupM, WPP’s consolidated media investment management arm.

For more information, visit www.mediacom.com

 Find us on Twitter @mediacomireland


ABOUT RADIUMONE

RadiumOne, a RhythmOne company, is the only data-driven marketing company that connects the dots between brands’ paid, earned, shared and owned assets to find and connect with high-value consumers. Through our ability to see the strongest signals of consumer intent and predict where consumers are on their journeys, we can build customized campaign strategies specific to your brand. RadiumOne delivers digital campaigns that are measured against real business outcomes. Headquartered in San Francisco, we have offices across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

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Irish Consumers Seek Healthier Lifestyles

Posted By James Wilson, Mintel, 11 October 2017

healthy lifestyles

According to Mintel’s latest Healthy Lifestyles, Ireland 2017 Report, almost half of Irish consumers believe they are healthier than they were a year ago, indicative of the the healthy lifestyle trend that is sweeping across Ireland. However, obesity rates remain high and physical activity is low among Irish consumers, reflecting the fact that healthy habits are hard to adopt and even harder to maintain.

In this article James Wilson, Research Analyst at Mintel, discusses how brands can inspire consumers in Republic of Ireland (RoI) and Northern Ireland (NI) to improve their health.

 

The state of the nation’s health

Over four in 10 NI and half of RoI consumers think that they are healthier than they were 12 months ago, with 13% of NI and 17% of RoI consumers viewing themselves as a lot healthier, underpinning the healthy eating and living trend pervading across Ireland. This indicates that there is a gap between how Irish consumers view themselves and how health professionals view them. This difference could be possibly explained by consumers cutting out or reducing their intake of unhealthy foods and ingredients, such as sugar, and therefore considering themselves to be healthier. Lifestyles are, however, about more than cutting out one aspect and involves a holistic approach that includes improving diets, increasing physical activity and mental health. Brands that can inspire consumers to continue their healthy living habits for longer will create positive brand associations among consumers. Moreover, they could look to provide more resources to educate consumers on simple everyday changes that they can easily incorporate into their daily lives. Such an approach would likely be welcomed by older consumers, who may be put off going to the gym, therefore helping them to improve their overall health.

 

Concerns about ingredients in food and drink

Within food and drink products, sugar is the ingredient Irish consumers are most concerned about, according to Mintel research. Over half (55%) of NI and 59% of RoI consumers have actively reduced the amount of sugar in their diets in the last 12 months. Additionally, 39% of RoI and 35% of NI consumers have switched from sugary snacks (eg chocolate) to no-added-sugar alternatives (eg fresh or dried fruit) in the last 12 months, while similar percentages have switched from sweet snacks to savoury snacks.

This likely reflects the significant media attention around its impact on health and could explain why Irish consumers are reducing the amount of sugar that they are eating. While food and drink manufacturers have taken steps to reduce the sugar content of their products in recent years and prominently display low, no, reduced sugar claims on packaging, consumers are still concerned. Clearer labelling on food and drink products will make it easier for consumers to know how much sugar they are consuming. Such an approach will help food and drink manufacturers to demonstrate an increased level of transparency over the contents of their products and therefore assuage any concerns consumers have regarding sugar. Additionally, continuing to reduce the sugar content of food and drink products will help brands to tackle Irish consumers’ concerns and avoid punitive legislation, such as the upcoming sugar taxes in Ireland.

 

How consumers maintain healthy lifestyles

Cooking from scratch is an easy way for consumers to control what ingredients go into their meals and therefore better manage their weight. As many as 66% of NI and 71% of RoI consumers state that they eat meals that are cooked from scratch, making this the main way Irish consumers look to maintain their healthy lifestyles. However, this peaks among consumers aged 55+, while early Millennials are the least likely to eat meals that have been cooked from scratch. This reflects that younger consumers may not have time to prepare a meal from scratch due to their busier lifestyles, but also that they may lack the knowledge to prepare meals from scratch.

To encourage greater numbers of young Irish consumers to cook from scratch, the NI and RoI governments could introduce initiatives that provide younger consumers with the skills to prepare meals from scratch and improve nutritional education. Such an approach could be included within the school curriculum to help tackle the issue of obesity from an early stage. Brands could look to a similar approach, holding cooking master classes with their celebrity chef ambassadors and competitions within university campuses, for example, to further encourage young consumers to maintain the cooking skills that they developed during their school years and therefore reduce their consumption of typically less healthy takeaway meals as they get older.

Finally, choosing the right nutrients also plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Over four in 10 Irish consumers use lean proteins in meals that they prepare while two NI and three RoI consumers in 10 include at least two portions of fish in their diet per week. This reflects that consumers are increasing their protein intake as a result of their growing awareness of the role that protein plays in maintaining proper muscular function. Overall, consumers in RoI are significantly more likely to meet their recommended daily five portions of fruit and vegetable, while consumers in NI are slightly more likely to track their diet and exercise using an app or wearable technology such as a Fitbit.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As a research analyst with Mintel, James researches and writes in the retail, technology and leisure sectors for Mintel’s Irish series of reports. His specialist areas include all things digital with a focus on social media and consumer shopping habits. He has featured in radio interviews and national publications such as The Times.

Mintel’s Healthy Lifestyles report is available to purchase. For more information on this report and how Mintel can help your business, contact Ciara Rafferty, Director Mintel Ireland on +44 (0)28 9024 1849 or crafferty@mintel.com.

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Challenger Brands: Busting through the Barriers in Banking

Posted By The Marketing Institute, 11 October 2017

challenger brands

We were delighted to have Aidan Power from KBC Bank talking at our October Marketing Breakfast about challenger brands and busting through the barriers in banking.

Aidan has been leading the brand charge in the transformation of the bank into a retail disruptor challenger bank in Ireland. At the heart of this transformation was the creation of a truly customer centric brand positioning ‘the Bank of You’. Fulfilling such a big brand promise has not come without its challenges and it now demands (and in the future) a differentiated customer experience.

This year Ireland became a core market within the KBC Group and Aidan shared his thoughts on how to create and deliver a differentiated challenger brand and extreme customer experience, using a different type of culture, mindset, agility and leadership.

 

What is a challenger brand?

Aidan started off with defining a challenger brand as

            “a brand that takes the norm and turns it on its head, making its
             proposition the new norm for its category
.”

Aidan joined KBC Bank in 2012, at a time where the banking sector was in a poor condition and many marketers were trying to get out of banking, not into it. KBC Bank’s brand awareness was below 20% at the time and they needed a new proposition to stand out.

 

The new proposition:

  • A digital first, customer centric full service retail bank that played a challenger role in Irish banking

They made a point of designing a proposition for the future, not for what consumers wanted at the time.

Aidan noted that despite being “digital first”, a bank needs a physical presence if it is to be trusted by consumers. With this in mind KBC Bank created “hubs” in fifteen key locations in Ireland to welcome their customers, with a design that looked nothing like a traditional bank.

Once the strategy has been created, marketers need to look at structure, talent & capability, and review these regularly in order to stay on top.

The next big step was to create the brand story. To create a challenger brand marketers must think outside their category, but also outside Ireland. KBC bank needed to disrupt the banking industry with a striking brand platform. Their mantra became to stop talking, acting and walking like a traditional bank. The Bank of You was born, with the customer at the centre of everything.

 

 

What’s next?

In 2017, KBC Bank know they must keep evolving if they want to stay relevant. They are now thinking in terms of customer experience, not products and services, and focusing on delivering experiences built on consumer insights such as the expectation of instant, always-on accessibility.

KBC have also developed a new look and feel. As a global brand they are of course working within constraints, but they were able to change key elements such as the font, which needed to be more digital friendly, and the photography.

One of the challenges that KBC Bank has faced as “the new kid on the block” is being outspent by competitors. However they could always outsmart them! Here Aidan highlighted the importance of amplification: making yourself sound louder than you actually are.

Aidan concluded the session by sharing his key learnings for marketers.

 

Key learnings

  • be agile & fast
  •  be passionate & ambitious
  • be resilient
  • don’t take no for an answer
  • look at the outside world
  • let the customers in
  • remove your “blinkers”
  • celebrate small successes
  • test, fail and try again!

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