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A Day in the Life of... Yvonne Kiely, Director at EY

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 27 September 2017
Updated: Tuesday 26 September 2017

 The Marketing Institute: What does a Director of EY Ireland do?

Y.K: EY Ireland has a number of Service Lines but specifically I am a Director in EY’s Performance Improvement Advisory practice, specialising in Customer and Digital.

My role involves helping clients cultivate actionable customer insights and be first-to-market with differential customer experiences. Typically I will lead programmes and teams across utilities, retail, technology and financial services sectors, which aim to increase customer lifetime value. We work with our clients to identify a customer need or behaviour, co-create a tailored solution, and build the customer experience, operating model and technology platform to suit. Our research and experience shows that by focusing on making customers happy, businesses become more profitable – improving loyalty, attracting new customers, getting them to spend more and reducing costs.


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

Y.K: I believe that having worked in both professional services and industry roles has made me a stronger advisor today. Joining EY has also given me access to an enormous global network of experienced colleagues which allows me to continue to grow and also to build engagement teams that have deep knowledge and experience across all facets of any type of project.


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

Y.K: So many businesses have historically designed their products and services based on technology, processes and structure, resulting in fragmented and frustrating experiences for the customer. This usually has created a great deal of “legacy” infrastructure and entrenched behaviours that need to be worked around or sometimes radically changed in order to adopt a truly customer-centric approach. In addition, delivering end to end effective customer experience involves many functions across an organisation This type of change is difficult to progress at an accelerated pace without  highly empowered front line employees and C-level sponsorship. Securing these for a particular project is often where I invest my own time in order to make a project successful.


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

Y.K: Leadership skills and the ability to prioritise are critical. Every day, I need to make sure that our team members are making the best use of their time, for the benefit of our clients, to grow our Customer & Digital business and to develop their own capabilities. I also need to be able to inspire a delivery team made up of individuals motivated by very different objectives, from different companies and backgrounds, to come together and achieve a common goal, rooted in customer insight.  As part of that, I must balance strong advocacy and listening skills in order to help define problems and opportunities accurately, as well as champion the client, customer and consumer perspectives.


MII: Describe a typical working day?

Y.K: A typical working day is very rarely the same – I may be on a client site delivering a service design workshop one day and the next could involve meeting with clients to help identify their key customer objectives for the next three to five years. When I am in the office, I might be overseeing activity in our Customer Lab, counselling members of my team on their longer-term career progression, or recruiting new team members to help fuel our growth.


MII: What do you love most about your role?

Y.K: Immersing myself in the challenge of exceeding client expectations on a daily basis which requires a focus on customer data and trends, commercial insights and building meaningful relationships. I love the culture of our team and of EY Ireland. It is genuinely exciting to see such rapid growth as it continues to open up new opportunities for people across the team to share in the journey as we help clients build more profitable relationships with their customers.


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

Y.K: We operate in a very dynamic and exciting area of business often leading the charge around digital integration, pioneering insights to action, accelerating organisational redesign to drive customer centricity, and advocating for continuous improvement. That means we too continue to improve, challenge and champion as the team grows. As such we are continuing to expand our Customer and Digital strength in Ireland with additional service offerings and capabilities. With that comes further opportunity to enable our clients accelerate their own growth in truly innovative and differentiated ways that drive sustained firm value. I look forward to leading that next stage in our evolution and expanding our relationships so that we can continue to help our clients meet their objectives and work together in achieving these successes.

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A Day in the Life of... Ian McGrath, Managing Director at MediaCom

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 13 September 2017
Updated: Tuesday 12 September 2017

ian mcgrath mediacom

The Marketing Institute: What does a Managing Director at MediaCom do?

Ian McGrath: As a communications business, MediaCom operates in a highly energetic, expansive and competitive environment. The extent of specialism across this industry, and its pace, keeps it refreshing. Our central belief in MediaCom is that our people defines us – People First. Instilling this across everything we do is my number one priority.


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

I.M: I’ve worked in media agencies throughout my career. If you know me, you know I genuinely love this business. Few industries are driven by such an extent of exploration, learning and proof as marketing is.


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

I.M: In one word – Leadership. I would not believe anyone who says that leadership is easy, but it is hugely rewarding.


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

I.M: Our core purpose in MediaCom is to grow clients’ businesses. The capability and motivation of our team is what moves business forward. Understanding people is how you really grow penetration, so to be truly effective in my role I need to ensure this is the focus of everything we do.


MII: Describe a typical working day.

I.M: There is no day that is wash, rinse, repeat. As I mentioned, that’s what I love about this business. In MediaCom we work with a stellar list of clients, many in tough markets. No two days could be the same. I do like to get an early start as I believe that sets you up for the rest of the day.

Reading and exercise are important no matter how busy you are. And make sure you have time to think. Lasting solutions are often better than quick solutions.


MII: What do you love most about your role?

I.M: I believe that brands are cultural. Understanding how to influence choice, commitment and intent is something you have to immerse yourself in. I also like to know the technical ins-and-outs of how things work. Both these areas excite me.

The people in this business are also generally hard working, passionate and nice. That makes a big difference in any industry.


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

I.M: I’m a big believer ‘that chance favours the well prepared’. I’m always open to opportunities, once I keep to this I’m sure I’ll keep finding them. In the meantime I’ll keep trying to improve myself and continue to learn.


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

I.M: Sometimes people forget that musicians are big fans of music. There is a lot of inspiration to take from the Irish marketing industry over the years. We should be proud. And the privilege we have today is that it's never been more accessible. Please find it, read it and share it.

And lastly I can never overlook the support of my family and friends. I always have to give a special thank you to these people.

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Attitudes to Advertising in Ireland

Posted By James Wilson, Mintel, Tuesday 12 September 2017

attitudes to advertising

Mintel’s latest Attitudes to Advertising, Ireland 2017 Report examines the advertising industry in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (RoI). 

The report highlights that Irish consumers are increasingly taking steps to avoid commercial content, while they lack belief that advertising has a strong impact on them. However, with consumers paying attention to humorous and informative advertising, there is scope for brands to reach them effectively and gain their attention, boosting recall and purchase intention. In this article James Wilson, Research Analyst at Mintel, discusses consumers’ perceptions of current advertising platforms. 

Social media the most effective online advertising channel

Social networks are an effective way to reach consumers, with around a third of consumers in both NI and RoI agreeing that advertising on social network news feeds is effective in gaining their attention. In comparison, advertisements on internet services such as video streaming channels, ads on search engines and banners on webpages are considered less engaging. However, usage of social network platforms amongst younger audiences is fragmenting towards smaller sites and more interest-oriented groups. As such, brands will need to include more channels into their social media activity and segment younger consumers by their interests to ensure that the right content is being delivered to the right audience on the right platform. This will help brands to contribute to the conversations younger consumers are having and thus boost their relevance among these key users of social networks.

TV the most effective offline advertising channel

TV remains the most powerful medium for brands looking to get their message out, as stated by 62% of NI and 57% of RoI consumers who consider it effective. However, as TV viewing habits change and become more fragmented, brands will need to embrace multi-device viewers and develop viewing profiles of consumers who are accessing content in different ways to ensure that they maintain the effectiveness of this channel. 

Outdoor billboards better at reaching urban consumers

Billboards and outdoor posters are effective in reaching urban consumers. Indeed, 40% of consumers from the city of Belfast stated that this type of advertising caught their attention, compared to an average of 30% in NI overall. Identifying high-footfall areas within cities for an outdoor campaign will help advertisers to boost the exposure and awareness of their brands. Furthermore, with usage of public transport increasing in NI and RoI, and set to continue growing in the coming years, the out-of-home sector offers brands significant potential. Digitising more advertising panels at bus and train stations would help brands to deliver a more interactive experience for the growing number of public transport users, therefore boosting recall and purchase intention. 

Irish consumers taking steps to avoid advertising

Looking at interaction with advertising, it seems Irish consumers feel overexposed to commercial content due to the increased amount of advertising they receive, particularly online. Indeed, 37% of NI and 38% of RoI consumers have noticed more advertising online compared to 12 months ago. As a consequence, they are increasingly taking steps to avoid commercial content, with more than half of consumers saying they fast forward through television adverts when using catch-up/on-demand services. Moreover, consumers feel misled by advertising, as around four in 10 think products are never as good as commercials make them look. This is particularly the case with online advertising, considered more misleading compared to traditional print and TV channels.

Humorous advertising appeals to consumers

Less than one in 10 NI and RoI consumers think advertising has a strong impact on them. However, Mintel data shows that consumers do pay attention to advertising that makes them laugh and informs them of special offers and discounts. Using humorous advertising that informs consumers will help brands to gain their attention, boosting recall and purchase intention. 

Consumers avoid advertising but understand it keeps services free

Although the majority of Irish consumers understand that advertising is essential to keep some services that are particularly important to them in their daily lives, such as Google and Facebook, free to use, there remains a significant level of negativity among consumers towards commercial content. This likely reflects that consumers feel that there is too much advertising and that it is becoming invasive, intrusive and annoying. 

As such, Irish consumers are reducing their exposure to commercial content by changing TV channels, radio stations and web browsers, fast forwarding through TV ads on catch-up services and not using websites due to high volumes of advertising. However, despite taking steps to avoid advertising, there is currently little appetite among Irish consumers to pay for a premium service to do so.

This does not necessarily mean that consumers accept or are happy with the advertising experience that they receive. Instead, consumers may think that these services do not represent value for money. More clearly demonstrating the benefits (eg fast page load times, greater privacy, exclusive content) of paid-for ad-free services will help providers to boost subscriptions and usage and see fewer consumers using ad blockers to obtain an ad-free experience.


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 Attitudes to Advertising, Ireland, 2017 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

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Marketing analytics: Striking a balance between big data and traditional techniques

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Tuesday 5 September 2017
emc analytics big data


Here’s an interesting piece from the European Marketing Confederation, an international marketing body of which MII is a member.


The author, Professor Yolanda Jordaan, Head of the Department of Marketing Management at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, discusses four strategic analytics options for combining traditional marketing analytics and big data.


Read report

Tags:  big data  marketing analytics 

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Despite Brexit Uncertainties, Ireland’s 2017 economic performance set to surpass 2016

Posted By The Marketing Institute & UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, Monday 4 September 2017
Updated: Friday 1 September 2017

Dublin, 4 September 2017: Spending in the consumer economy was up by 3% in Q1 2017, and all the signs are positive for continuing growth—a growing population, increasing employment, and rising incomes, and the drop in the value of Sterling is enhancing buying power in many sectors, particularly cars. All forecasts are positive for this year and may actually surpass the performance achieved in 2016. The consumer economy is now one of the main contributors to economic growth, along with investment in construction.

These are the key findings of the latest Consumer Market Monitor (CMM), published today by the Marketing Institute of Ireland and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. Data from the Q2 2017 Monitor indicate that Irish consumers seem to have shrugged off initial fears of Brexit and are spending on many types of goods and services, especially every kind of household goods. 

“The strength of demand is most evident in the housing market where mortgage approvals increased by 41% in H1, and the number of homes purchased was up by 8%, despite a shortage of supply. All types of household goods are all growing very strongly,” according to Marketing Professor Mary Lambkin UCD Smurfit School author of the report.  

“The growing population along with increasing employment and rising income are driving a strong increase in disposable income, which is positive for Irish marketers,” said Tom Trainor, Chief Executive of the Marketing Institute of Ireland.




Consumer spending continues to be one of the main drivers of economic growth in Ireland at present, along with investment in construction. Strong growth is continuing in both sectors in 2017 and this trend is expected to continue through 2018. Personal consumption has grown by 3% in the first quarter of the year, and is expected to grow by 3.1% for the whole of this year, and by 2.7% in 2018. 

The main drivers of this growth are population expansion, along with increasing employment, and rising incomes. It has been estimated that half of the growth in consumer spending was driven by population growth between 2011 and 2016. Furthermore, there are now 2.045 million people at work, up 68,600 year-on-year, and up by 220,000 or 12% since the low point in 2012. 

Employment is expected to continue performing strongly this year and next, with growth of 2.8% projected for 2017 and 2.3% in 2018. This will mean an additional 105,000 persons at work which would bring employment to over 2.15 million for the first time since 2008. 

Pay increases have also contributed, up by 2% on average in 2015 and by 5% in 2016. The  drop in the value of Sterling since the Brexit referendum has also helped, causing  consumer prices to be approximately 1.2% lower than would have been the case had Sterling remained stable. 

These factors drive the amount of disposable income circulating in the economy, and spending closely matches income. In fact, there has been a remarkable increase in disposable income in recent times -- it increased by 5% in 2015, and by a further 4.4% in 2016. In sum, it reached €99 billion in 2016, not far off the 2007 peak of €102 billion.  Disposable income is up by a further 4.7% this year and this is expected to support consumer spending growth through this year and next.

Another important influence on consumer spending is household wealth, as perceptions of increasing wealth raise consumer confidence, encouraging people to release funds for spending. Irish household wealth is increasing again as property values recover and progress is being made in paying down debt. 

As a result, consumer confidence is very strong here at present, and significantly higher than in the UK and the rest of Europe. It fell a little bit in the second half of 2016 due to worries about Brexit. However, the confidence barometer is now back in positive territory and has got a significant boost in recent months. 

This is driving a steady increase in consumer spending that is producing sales growth in most retail and service sectors. The strongest growth was in cars which were up 20% in volume terms last year and which accounted for 24% of total consumer spending growth. Spending on holidays also increased by 10% last year. 

Retail sales excluding the motor trade grew by 5.3% in volume and 2.4% in value in 2016 which was a relatively strong performance, considering the upheavals provoked by Brexit and the US election. Retail sales have continued to be strong in the first half of 2017, up by 6% in volume and 3% in value, the highest rate of growth experienced since 2007.

Sales of new cars are one important exception; sales of new cars were down by 10% in the first half of this year, for a total of 87,346 units. This might suggest a weakening in the consumer economy but that is not actually the full story because there has been a dramatic rise in the number of imported second hand cars, up 47% in 2016, and up by another 46% in the first half of 2017 for a total of 44,945. This reflects the weakening of sterling which has made imports better value. Taken together, car sales in the first half of the year are actually up by 3% on last year, which is quite healthy. 

Sales of services are also showing a bit of weakness, with growth slowing to 2.5% in the second quarter of this year, compared to 5.5% for 2016. Professional, scientific and technical services have done best in Q2 (+11.9%), followed by wholesaling (+6.7%), and accommodation (+3%), but several other categories have fared poorly: administrative and support services (-3%), Transportation and Storage (-1%), Information and Communication (-3%), and Other Service Activities (-8%).

Residential property is the sector under most pressure, as is well known. There were 45,342 homes sold in 2016 which was actually lower than the 47,313 sold in 2015, partly driven by a shortage of supply. 

There were just 20,500 properties for sale nationwide in March 2017, the lowest since the series started in January 2007. Despite the tight market, residential transaction volumes are up in 2017; there have been 16,975 transactions in the first half of the year, up 8% year-on-year. Mortgage approvals in H1 2017 were also up by a very large 41%, for a total of 17,605, indicating the strength of demand in the market. 


Consumer Confidence

Consumer confidence in Ireland reached a record high in June 2015, and remained strong through the rest of the year. At this point, confidence here was well ahead of the last peak in 2007, and well ahead of our European neighbours.

Unfortunately, confidence fell steadily through 2016, with Q4 at 5.9, (compared to 16.6 in Q4 2015,) reflecting uncertainly about Brexit, the tumult of the US election, and industrial unrest. 

The first half of 2017 saw confidence pick up again, reaching a high of 9.4 in June, reflecting continuing strength in the economy. The current level of confidence is consistent with a solidly improving Irish economy, although a majority of consumers still say they do not perceive an improvement in their own finances.

Consumer confidence in the UK has been negative since Q2 2016 due to worries about Brexit, as well as general political uncertainty. Confidence has declined steadily through the first half of 2017, reaching -7 in June.

2016 was a tumultuous year for US consumers, which negatively affected confidence levels. However, confidence has recovered this year, to the highest level in 16 years, despite the continuing upheaval in the White House.  



Consumer Incomes and Spending

The amount of disposable income in the economy rose by 5.5% in 2015 and by 4.4% in 2016 bringing it to a total of €99 billion, close to the €100 million level that was last seen in 2007. Increasing employment and pay increases of 2% in 2015 and 5% in 2016, were the main drivers of the increases in disposable income. Lower fuel prices and a weakening in the value of Sterling also boosted disposable income. Disposable income is up by a further 4.7% this year so far, suggesting continuing strength in the consumer economy.

Household spending began to recover in 2014, when it grew by 2%, and it grew by a very strong 4.5% in 2015. Spending continued to grow in the first half of 2016, but the rate of growth weakened in the latter half, ending the year up by 3.3%. The pre-Christmas peak in 2016 surpassed the 2007 peak for the first time in nine years. Within this, goods related consumption was particularly buoyant – up by 4.1% with services related consumption growing by 2.4%.

Spending is continuing to grow in 2017, up by 3% for Q1, year-on-year, and is currently the main driver of growth in the Irish economy, along with construction.  Growth of 3%  is forecast for 2017 as a whole, and this rate of growth is expected to continue in 2018.

All of the main components of spending continue to be strong in 2017. Retail was up by 6% in volume terms in the first half and Vat was up by 11%, year-on-year, supporting evidence of strong spending. Services were not quite as strong, up by 2.5% on average for the first half of the year.

Personal spending in the UK grew each quarter since Q4 2011 at an average annual rate of 2%, and continued to grow right through to the end of 2016, suggesting that Brexit had little impact up to that point. However, growth has slowed to 0.1% in Q1 2017, as have other key economic indicators. 



Consumer Borrowing

Borrowing by Irish consumers grew at a record level from 2000 and peaked in March 2008 at €150 billion, but declined steadily since then, down -41% to €86 billion in Q1 2017. Household debt continued to fall during 2016, down by €1.5bn to €144 billion or €30,199 per capita, but grew by a very slight 0.4% in Q1 2017, the first sign of a return to normal conditions.

Loans for house purchase, which account for 84% of household loans, peaked in Q1 2008 at €124 billion, but decreased to €73 Billion by end Q4 2016, a cumulative decline of 40%, or an annual rate of -2.4%. The number of mortgages in arrears fell further in Q1 2017-- the fifteenth consecutive quarter of decline. A total of 76,422 (10%) of accounts were in arrears at end-March. 

Lending for other consumption accounts for approximately 18% of total borrowing. This category peaked in Q1 2008 at €30 billion but declined to €12 billion by December 2016, a reduction of 60%. This category resumed growth in 2016, up by 5.9%, and is grew by a very significant 10% in Q1 of this year, primarily driven by car financing.

Overall, the ratio of household debt to disposable income has fallen by 60% since a peak of 215% in mid-2011. Between Q4 2012 and Q4 2016, Irish household debt has fallen from 194% of disposable income to 141%, a decline of 53%. Despite this, Irish households remain the fourth most indebted in the European Union. 


Car Sales

New car sales were up 30% in the first half of 2016 but this slowed in the second half of the year. A final figure of 142,688 cars was sold in 2016, up 18% on the 121,110 cars sold in 2015. The 2016 total was just about the average annual sales level of the early 2000s.

New car sales have been weak in the first half of 2017, down 10.4% year-on-year, for a total of 87,346 units. This would normally suggest a weakening in the consumer economy but that is not actually the full story because there has been a dramatic rise in the number of imported second hand cars, up 47% in 2016, and up by another 46% in the first half of 2017 to a total of 44,945. This reflects the weakening of sterling which has made imports better value. 

Taken together, car sales in the first half of the year are actually up by 3% on last year, which is quite healthy, and not indicative of a weakening in consumer spending. 

Retail Spending

Retail sales got off to a good start in the first quarter of 2017, up by 5.9% in volume and 2.3% in value on an annual basis. This growth accelerated in Q2, up by 6.9% in volume and by 3.6% in value, year-on-year. For the first half year, therefore, retail sales have grown by 6% in real volume terms, and by 3% in value terms, suggesting a very strong outcome for the year as a whole. This would be the fastest growth in retail sales since 2007.

All product categories except books/newsagents experienced healthy growth in Q2 2017. Household equipment which combines furnishings, electrical goods, hardware, paints and glass, continues to be the fastest growing category, up by 12.9% in volume and 7.1% in value, year-on-year. The only category showing weakness was books/newsagents which continued a declining pattern, down -2% year-on-year, both in volume and value.

Food sales up 5.3% in volume and up 3.5% in value; 
Non-specialised stores (supermarkets) up 5.8% in volume and 4% in value; 
Fuel up 1.4% in volume and 6.4% in value; 
Clothing, footwear & textiles up 6.2% in volume and 1.1% in value; 
Household equipment up 12.9% in volume and 7.1% in value;
Department stores up 7.2% in volume and 2.4% in value;
Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics up 4.8% in volume and 2.9% in value;
Bar sales up 1.3% in volume and up 2.6% in value.
Books, newspapers, stationery down -2.0% in volume and -2.0% in value. 




read report




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 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.


About UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School


University College Dublin became one of the first universities in Europe to offer the degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA), starting in 1964.  In 1991, the graduate business school opened its own campus in Blackrock, County Dublin.  With over 100 faculty members, 1,400 students and 70,000 alumni worldwide, UCD Smurfit School is one of a small number of business schools worldwide to hold triple international accreditation (US - AACSB, European - EQUIS and UK – AMBA). The school’s programmes have been consistently ranked among the leading European business schools by the Economist and Financial Times, since 2000.


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