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A Day in the Life of... Andy Pierce, Group Strategy Director at Core

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 5 December 2018
Updated: Monday 3 December 2018

Andy Pierce Core

What does a Group Strategy Director at Core do? 

In a nutshell, we help marketers turn business plans into actionable marketing plans, so that everything is focused on achieving the business ambition. 

Strategy has three simple parts: a diagnosis of the problem, a guiding principle to overcome it, and a coherent set of actions to drive it forward. 

To develop these elements, we work closely with several different practices within Core: research, data, creative, sponsorship and media, both individually and collectively. Core’s vision is to expand the possibilities of what brands can achieve through collaboration, and we’re very fortunate to have such a breadth of expertise to call on.

The type of strategy we develop varies. It covers everything from developing brand and positioning strategy right through to connections and investment. 

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

It was a gradual evolution. Joining Core was the key move for me. I had worked in media trading and planning before, but moving here initially gave me the opportunity to lead the planning for one of the media agencies initially. That was a great learning experience, as I was working with international colleagues and a range of different marketers. 

After moving out of media into Core, it’s been a case of right place, right time. As Core’s offering has developed through Research and Data in particular, it’s given us access to a wealth of information which helps enormously. I’m also very lucky that I work with a diverse group of strategists with different backgrounds, so I get to learn (steal!) from them as well.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your role? 

 Time is probably the biggest one. Getting the strategy right is vital for other parts of the team to move forward coherently. But to do it justice we have to look at the brief from a number of different angles and explore different directions. Again, we’re very fortunate, as we can lean heavily on our colleagues in other practices to help us gather information and develop insight at a fast pace. On the other hand, the constraint of a deadline can be quite helpful too.

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

I think it varies for different types of strategists, but a few are common. You have to be curious – about people, business, and marketing. You have to be thorough in digging through as much information as possible with an open mind. Accountability is vital; actions have to be linked to the ultimate objective. Lastly, brevity. Good strategy should resolve complex problems simply. 

I think an analytical mindset helps – but I regularly get teased for liking spreadsheets!

Describe a typical working day. 

It’s probably easier to describe a week. We start with a capacity planning meeting within the team, before meeting Data and Research to see where we can support each other on shared projects.

Then it’s into the meat of the work. We tend to have three types of work: stand-alone projects; shared projects with Research and Data, where we build their findings into actionable marketing strategy; or working as part of the wider Core team including Creative, Sponsorship and/or Media.

We also keep two mornings free each week for internal sprint sessions. These are workshops we’ve designed to help any team or group across the agency develop strategic direction. Core is built on collaboration, so we bring a diverse mix into these sessions, armed with as much knowledge as possible, and work as a group to shape it into a strategic direction.

What do you love most about your role? 

Unquestionably it’s when you see the direction you helped to set succeed. Watching it get adopted and built upon by colleagues and clients, and develop into something even more powerful than you had envisaged, is very rewarding. But I also love the process. Especially when you get up to your armpits in the issue and worry that you’re in too deep. It can be a bit terrifying, but its usually a good sign that you understand the problem. That’s generally when you go and brainstorm the issue with someone else, which is always rewarding.

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

I’m a nerd when it comes to the science of advertising, and it feels like we’re coming into a bit of a golden age. I think there’s still a road ahead of us to keep making the case, but we’ve taken good first steps. That’s a journey I really want to be on, so I hope my career path can involve working more and more with clients to build that business case for marketing.

It’s also a really exciting time within Core. Working more closely together with a talented team that possess a mix of skills is leading to some fascinating new directions, and I’m excited to see what we can do together.

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

Three places - colleagues, books, and online industry resources. There’s a lot of expertise in our team, so talking through challenges is usually a great start and will open up a lot of avenues. I find there are a range of good online resources I go back to regularly, both local and international. We also have a library in Core, which we regularly steal from! And we are threating to start a book club for strategy titles, to keep information fresh and to share outtakes. 

About Core

Core employs a team of 310 people and consists of nine practices - Creative, Data, Investment, Learning, Media (comprising of Mediaworks, Spark Foundry, Starcom and Zenith), Recruitment, Research, Sponsorship and Strategy.  

Core has been voted Agency Network of the Year for the last six years at the Media Awards and the company was also recently voted one of the top workplaces in Ireland by the Great Place to Work Institute for the ninth year running.

Core Sponsorship was voted Best Sponsorship Agency at the 2017 Irish Sponsorship Awards. 

For further details, please check out



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Customer Engagement Benchmarking Report 2018: Ireland

Posted By Dataconversion, Wednesday 5 December 2018
Updated: Monday 3 December 2018

dataconversion report

Our customer engagement research report assessed the views of marketing & customer engagement (CE) leaders across all major industries on the changes that the industry will face in the next 12 months.

We took a closer look at the trends, challenges and investments that are shaping strategies and examine the way customer data can improve experience in the shape of a single customer view.

The research objective was to help companies to benchmark against their peers and competitors in order to achieve better success for their future customer engagement activities.

We hope that you will find this report to be a valuable tool that enables you to spot opportunities within your market.


Read the report


About Dataconversion

Dataconversion is a bespoke software development company based in Dublin. We work with some of Ireland's leading businesses to improve Customer Engagement through the integration of data, technology and communications. We are passionate about all aspects of the Customer Experience and believe that brands should seek to not only meet but exceed customer expectations.

About Amárach

Amárach is an innovative research and advisory agency, working with clients for over 25 years to turn information into insight, and insight into foresight. Amárach’s team of psychologists, economists and data analysts draws on market research and data analytic techniques to help its clients succeed and grow through a better understanding of their own customers’ needs – both now and in the future.

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A first look at the 2018 Christmas ads

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 21 November 2018

With just over a month to go, Christmas is definitely in the air. This year again brands put their best creative forward to compete for consumers’ attention. And we love it.


John Lewis & Partners

The much-anticipated John Lewis Christmas ad is always a highlight of the festive season. This year John Lewis took a slightly different approach while sticking with the always-winning emotional formula.



Sainsbury also went for the children& music approach, with a spectacular interpretation of You Get What You Give, sang by a choral of kids in Christmas costumes.



This year’s Boots ad follows an ever-annoyed teenager and her well-meaning mum through the ups and downs of their relationship, until all is said with the perfect Christmas present.



Kevin the Carrot is back for the third year running and he’s got a new nemesis: the wicked parsnip.


McDonald’s UK

This year’s surprise comes from McDonald’s UK, which came up with a fresh and en-DEER-ing ad… but where are the burgers?



Heathrow airport brings back its famous couple of teddy bears to deliver their message of bringing people together at Christmas.



If you’ve used up all your tears on the above, fear not. KFC’s completely different and seriously on-brand ad is tons of fun.



Lidl launched a series of three 20-second ads on the theme of “upgrading Christmas”, because we all know this one person who goes a little bit over the top at Christmas.

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Mobile Consumer Survey 2018: The Irish cut

Posted By Deloitte, Wednesday 21 November 2018
Updated: Tuesday 20 November 2018

56% of Irish consumers think they use their phones too much while half of us believe our partners use their phones too much Deloitte survey

  • Irish smartphone users look at their phones 55 times a day on average, down from 57 in 2017. 13% admit to checking their phones over 100 times a day
  • 20% of Irish adults check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up, down from 27% in 2017
  • 1 in 5 believe their parents use their mobile phones too much
  • 68% of 18-24 year olds watch live videos or stories on social media every day
  • Access to tablets among the 65+ market has grown from 57% in 2017 to 70% in 2018 and the number of +65 year olds with access to an e-reader has increased from 30% to 45%.
  • 62% of Irish smartphone users make at least one call a day, as against a global average of 49% with only 38% of respondents in the UK making daily calls. Our use of SMS, VOIP, instant messaging, e-mail and social media is all above the international average.
  • Samsung remains the most popular brand across respondents with 32% of the market, with Apple at 29%


Visit to download the report.

Irish consumers are beginning to change their habits to curb their smartphone addictions, according to a new report from Deloitte. 56% think that they are using their phones too much, an increase from 50% at the same time in 2017. Irish smartphone users currently look at their phones 55 times a day on average down from 57 last year.

Deloitte’s annual Mobile Consumer Survey is a comprehensive survey of over 1,000 Irish people to assess their behaviour and usage of mobile devices and their views on this. This year’s survey reveals that a massive 97% of Irish consumers have access to some form of mobile phone (smartphone/phone), with 93% having access to a smartphone, and that 98% of smartphone owners use their devices on a daily basis.

Commenting on the report Richard Howard, Partner and Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications at Deloitte, said: “In the 2018 Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey we have started to see a balancing in our addiction to smartphones. Irish consumers appear to be recognising the over-reliance we have on our devices, and are beginning to make conscious efforts to reduce screen time. 2018 is also the year where we are finding the phone starting to replace cash and cards as a primary means of payment, which highlights how the smartphone has become intertwined into our daily lives.


Are we using our phones too much?

35% of people surveyed said that they experience increased levels of distraction as a result of using their mobile phones when trying to complete a task. 50% of us believe our partners use their mobile phones too much and 1 in 5 consumers believe that their parents use their mobiles too much. 13% of Irish adults admit to checking their phones over 100 times a day (down from 16% in 2017) while 20% of Irish adults check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up (down from 27%).


What are we using our phones for?

The survey reveals that 73% of people have used mobile/online banking on their phones, a 5% increase on 2017. In fact, mobile phones are the preferred device for checking bank balances across 50% of respondents, and 52% use a contactless payment app.

41% of Irish consumers pay for a music subscription: Spotify is the leading player in the Irish market with 33% of those surveyed subscribed to the service. 35% are subscribed to a newspaper in return for exclusive reporting. 27% stream a film or TV series at least once a week: Netflix is the most popular subscription service among respondents with 53% having access to the service. 16% purchase a product online at least once a week; 33% use their phones to monitor their fitness levels. The majority (68%) of 18-24 year olds watch live videos or stories on social media on a daily basis.

79% of Irish people use their smartphones for work-related business activities.


How do we secure our devices?

There has been a 9% growth in the use of fingerprint recognition year-on-year, with 39% of Irish people now regularly using the function to authorise transactions. However, the overall uptake is reluctant with 84% still using a PIN.

87% of consumers report being concerned about how online companies share their personal data with third parties. Despite this, 23% say that they always accept terms and conditions without reading them. 9% of respondents claimed that they have never shared personal information online.


What factors influence us when buying a new phone?

51% of Irish consumers are purchasing their new phones in store (down from 55% in 2017). 81% of Irish people consider the quality of their mobile network’s data coverage to be very important. Pay-as-you-go is the most popular payment plan among 18-24 year olds, with 76% opting for this. Across all Irish respondents, 41% opt for this payment plan.

Mobile Consumer Survey 2018: The Irish cut

About Deloitte’s 2018 Mobile Consumer Survey

Deloitte’s 2018 Mobile Consumer Survey is the Irish data cut of Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Survey, a multi-country study of mobile phone users around the world. The 2018 study comprises of over 54,000 respondents across 35 countries and five continents.

Other areas of interest dealt with as part of the survey include:

  • Views on network operators
  • Mobile device buying preferences
  • Usage of communication services on mobile devices
  • Machine learning trends in mobile applications
  • Home internet trends
  • Mobile phone usage for work

Data cited in the Irish report is based on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 consumers aged 18-75. The sample follows a country specific quota on age,
Irish gender, region and socio-economic status. Fieldwork took place during June 2018 and was carried out online by Ipsos MORI, an independent research firm, based on a question set provided by Deloitte.


About Deloitte

At Deloitte, we make an impact that matters for our clients, our people, our profession, and in the wider society by delivering the solutions and insights they need to address their most complex business challenges.

As the largest global professional services and consulting network, with approximately 263,900 professionals in more than 150 countries, we bring world-class capabilities and high-quality services to our clients.

In Ireland, Deloitte has nearly 3,000 people providing audit, tax, consulting, and corporate finance services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Our people have the leadership capabilities, experience and insight to collaborate with clients so they can move forward with confidence.

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The Consumer Market Monitor - Q3 2018

Posted By The Marketing Institute & UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, Monday 19 November 2018
Updated: Friday 16 November 2018

consumer market monitor Q3 2018Looming deadline for Home Renovation Incentive drives household spending


- Strength of Irish economy drives record consumer spending of €105 billion in 2018
- Average spend of €16,400 across 130,000 home renovation projects
- Sales of household goods also continue to soar, up by 14%
- The drop in the value of sterling due to Brexit enhancing buying power


read report


Dublin, November 19, 2018: The latest Consumer Market Monitor (CMM), published today by the Marketing Institute of Ireland and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School shows consumer spending continuing to grow strongly and likely to finish at €105 billion for this year, a new record and well above the last peak of €100 billion in 2007. Both retailing and services are doing well, up by 4 percent for the year and spending is matched by strong Vat returns which are up 5.5 percent this year.

The findings of the report revealed a continued surge in demand for household goods, with sales of hardware, furnishings and electrical goods surging by 14 percent, making it the highest growth sector of retailing in 2018. Furthermore, the Home Renovation Incentive scheme, due to expire on 31st December 2018, is incentivising households to invest heavily in the fabric of their homes, with 2018 spend expected to soar to a record €2.1 billion.

Professor Mary Lambkin, author of the report, said:  

In a market where houses for those trading-up or downsizing are in short supply, the Home Renovation Incentive tax incentive scheme has been a major factor driving the trend for home transformation, stimulating a lot of spending on household goods and enhancements, as well as being a considerable support for the building trades and related retail sectors. 12,179 building contractors have been involved in these projects and, given a multiplier of 2-3 for the number of trades contributing to these projects, that may have supported as many as 30,000 jobs.”


Tom Trainor, Chief Executive of the Marketing Institute of Ireland, said:

“Despite the uncertainty around the impact of Brexit on our economy, Irish consumer confidence is significantly higher than our European neighbours and there has been no apparent dampening of consumer spending, as both retail sales and spending on services have remained strong. However, we cannot take this for granted in the period ahead as Brexit plays out.


Booming Economy

According to the Q3 2018 Monitor, a strong economy has further enabled this trend. An increasing number of people employed, up by 3.4% year-on-year, together with expected pay increases of 3% in 2018, has led to a substantial uplift in the amount of disposable income circulating in the economy, expected to grow 4.4% to €108 billion in 2018. As a consequence, consumer spending rose by 3.6% in the first half of 2018 with full year spending forecast to be up by at least 3%, with further increases in 2019 and 2020.

Consumer spending has also been supported by improving household balance sheets mainly driven by the increasing value of peoples’ homes. Household net worth per capita now stands at €150,768, up 70% from the low of 2012. Perceptions of increasing wealth feed confidence and encourage consumers to release some of their perceived wealth for spending.


Household Equipment

Driven by the strong economy and the booming renovation market, sales of household equipment have been growing rapidly since 2014 and have been the highest growth sector of retail for several years. The volume of retail sales, which represents real growth having adjusted for inflation, has grown rapidly since 2014, and is now more than 50% ahead of the last peak in 2007.

The value of these sales remains 9% below the peak level, however, suggesting that prices are still lower than they were in the last boom. 

Some of the pickup in sales of household equipment has been driven by new homes, with purchasers having to equip them from scratch. From a low point of 8,300 in 2013, 20,000 new homes are expected to be connected in 2018 and a further 22,000 in 2019

Sales transactions across the residential property market are also increasing year on year and are expected to total 55,000 for this year, up from 50,000 in 2017. The expected increase in sales and supply, in 2019 and beyond, will inevitably add further fuel to this boom in sales.


Composition of Household Equipment

Household equipment is the sum of three categories of household items: furniture and lighting; hardware, paints and glass; and electrical goods. While all three categories are now experiencing strong growth, the level of growth has varied considerably.

Electrical goods recovered fastest from the recession and are now 42% higher in volume than at the last peak in 2007, and up by 20% for this year alone. Furniture and lighting comes next; it is  up 14% above the last peak, almost double its low point in 2012,  and up by 8% for this year to date.

The weakest category, relatively speaking, is hardware, paints and glass. This category’s close tie to construction explains why it has been slowest to recover. It is still down by 14% from the last peak in 2007 but is up by 33% from its lowest point in 2012. It has picked up particularly strongly this year, up by 10% in volume terms for the year to the end of September.


Retail Spending

Retail sales (excluding the motor trade) were very strong in 2017, up by 5.8% for the year in volume terms, and by 3.8% in value. This equated to spending of €40 billion which was back to the levels seen in the last boom.  This growth rate was paralleled by a high level of Vat returns which increased by 7.1% in 2017 for a total of €13 billion.

Retail sales have continued to grow in 2018 but at a slower rate, up by 3.9% in volume and 2% in value in the first half of the year. Growth accelerated in the third quarter, up 4.3% in volume and 3.7% in value year-on-year, and this momentum is expected to continue as we face into the final quarter and the holiday season. Vat receipts are moving in tandem, up 5% for the year to the end of September.

All retail categories reported good growth in Q3. Household equipment continued to be the fastest growing category, up 14.4%% in volume and 6.6% in value, year-on-year. Supermarkets and other food stores also performed well as did pharmacies and department stores, although clothing and footwear were a bit weaker, as were sales through bars.


  • Food sales up 5.1% in volume and up 4.0% in value;
  • Non-specialised stores (supermarkets) up 5.0% in volume and 4.0% in value;
  • Fuel up 1.8% in volume and 11.0% in value;
  • Clothing, footwear & textiles up 2.3% in volume and 1.7% in value;
  • Household equipment up 14.4% in volume and 6.6% in value;
  • Department stores up 5.9% in volume and 3.4% in value;
  • Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics up 6.2% in volume and 2.3% in value;
  • Bar sales static in volume but up 1.3% in value.
  • Books, newspapers and stationery up 4.0% in volume and 5.0% in value.

infographic consumer market monitor q3 2018


About the Author


Mary Lambkin

Mary Lambkin is Professor of Marketing in the UCD School of Business where she teaches courses to undergraduate and postgraduate students and is involved in a range of research projects under the general heading of marketing strategy.  She has written extensively on this subject in academic journals, and also writes commentaries on marketing topics of contemporary interest for professional publications. She has served as Head of the Marketing Group, as Dean of the UCD Business School and as a member of the Governing Authority of the university at various times, and also holds a number of positions in companies and professional organisations outside the university.

About UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School


In 1964, University College Dublin became one of the first universities in Europe to offer the degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA).  In 1991, the graduate business school opened its own campus in Blackrock, County Dublin.  With over 100 faculty members, 1,300 students and 75,000 alumni worldwide, UCD Smurfit School is one of a small number of business schools worldwide and the only school in Ireland, to hold triple international accreditation (US - AACSB, European - EQUIS and UK – AMBA). The school’s programme has been consistently ranked among the leading European business schools’ programmes by the Economist and Financial Times, since 2000.


The School is also a member of CEMS and the Global Network for Advanced Management, which are alliances of leading global business schools.

About The Marketing Institute of Ireland

The Marketing Institute is the professional body for Ireland's marketing people. It exists “to enable marketers to build great brands and great careers”. It does this by sharing best practice, insights and expert content, building the community of marketers, and aiding marketers in career progression. The three themes of content, community and career underpin all Institute activities. The Marketing Institute also owns and operates the All Ireland Marketing Awards, the CMO Summit, and DMX Dublin, Ireland's largest marketing conference.

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