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Time for Ireland’s CMOs to ‘go native’

Posted By Martin Thomas, Social Business Consultant, Tuesday 14 November 2017

social media CMO

There is a game of musical chairs happening in Ireland’s boardrooms, and the head of marketing might be the one left standing when the music stops.  The rise of digital technology has been accompanied by the emergence of new boardroom roles such as Chief Technical Officer, Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer.  They have introduced a new set of priorities to the boardroom agenda and a new language of ‘enterprise software’, ‘big data’, ‘AI’, ‘cyber risk’ and ‘the internet of things’. 

This has left many marketing heads feeling exposed and in danger of being side-lined by their more technology-literate colleagues.  They might find the solution in a survey commissioned by the Chartered Management Institute in the UK, which shows that ‘80% of business leaders think it important to make the most of social media but 70% admitted that their efforts are currently ineffective.’[1]

Social media represents a battleground for influence and an opportunity for marketers.  It is transforming customer service, market research, recruitment, campaigning and internal communications and encouraging the development of alternative business models and new corporate structures.  It has become an integral part of our professional and private lives and dominates the leisure and professional time spent by customers, employees and other stakeholders, which is why, according to the Central Statistics Office, 67% of Irish enterprises employing 10 or more people are using social media, compared with an EU-28 average of 45%.[2] 

There is also a new generation entering the workforce that has lived most of their lives in social media – in a recent conference that I chaired, a group of students described themselves are being ‘born in the cloud.’  They are the true ‘digital natives’[3], armed with an intuitive technical knowledge and understanding that the rest of us can only dream of.  Managing their expectations and harnessing their talents will be a major challenge for every senior manager in the decades to come.

There has never been a more important time for all of us to understand the power, potential and pitfalls of social media and there has never been a better opportunity for marketers to re-establish their influence and authority.  One thing that senior marketing professionals have in their favour is their experience and intuition.  The single most important skill that determines success from failure in social media is the ability to exercise judgement.  This is the reason why even if they might struggle initially to master some of the technicalities, they are well placed to lead the social media debate within the boardroom. Judgement helps them know how to balance the demands of agility and compliance, and understand the importance of operating within regulatory frameworks.  It provides them with an almost intuitive sense that an emerging issue being played-out in social media has the potential to turn into a reputational crisis and helps them understand how to engage multiple stakeholders through a complex array of channels.

Becoming more social media literate will also help marketers safeguard their future prospects.  All of us are defined increasingly in the eyes of potential employers, stakeholders and colleagues by our social media profile and activities.  Irrespective of where we are in our careers, we all need to make the effort to enhance our skills and develop and nurture our personal social media brands if we want to build effective networks, establish useful connections, lead more effectively and put ourselves in the frame for the next job or business opportunity. 

So, no more excuses; no more delegating responsibility to juniors in the team; no more cynicism or complacency.   It is time for Ireland’s marketers to become more social media literate, improve their knowledge, sharpen their skills and help their boardroom colleagues understand how to make the most of the opportunities and minimise the risks.  Their customers expect it.  Even the analysts and industry commentators following their companies are beginning to expect it.  Are they ready to go native?


Chartered Management Institute, February 2014

Information Society Statistics, Central Statistics Office, 20th December 2016

The term ‘digital native’ was coined and popularized by education consultant Marc Prensky in his 2001 article entitled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, to describe a new generation of students who were "native speakers" of the digital language of computers, videos, video games, social media and other sites on the internet   

martin thomas
Martin Thomas will be leading our Social Media Marketing Masterclass on 1st February 2018.

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The Consumer Market Monitor Q3 2017

Posted By The Marketing Institute & UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, Monday 13 November 2017
Updated: Friday 10 November 2017

Sales of household goods soaring, despite housing shortage 

Disposable income up by 5.6% for the first half of 2017

- Continued growth in consumer spending expected, with 2.8% forecast for 2017

- The drop in the value of sterling due to Brexit enhancing buying power

- Consumer confidence significantly higher than in the UK and the rest of Europe


Dublin, November 13, 2017: Despite the current housing crisis, spending on household goods is up by 12.7% this year, making it the highest growth sector of retailing in 2017. Spending on household goods has been growing significantly for the last four years, and forecasts predict that 2017 may even surpass the performance achieved in 2016.

These are some of the 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 Q3 2017 Monitor indicate that Irish consumers are spending on many types of goods and services, but especially on household goods.

“The signs are positive for continuing growth with indicators such as population, employment, and rising incomes. The drop in the value of sterling is another significant factor enhancing buying power. The strength of demand is most evident in the housing market where mortgage approvals increased by 41% in Q1, 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 Professor Mary Lambkin, author of the report.   


“The continuing growth in employment is leading to a substantial increase in the amount of disposable income circulating in the economy. In fact, disposable income reached €95 billion in 2016, not far off the 2007 peak of €102 billion. The growing population coupled with the increase in 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.


Household Equipment

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, has grown rapidly since 2014, and is now well ahead of the last peak in 2007.

In contrast, the value of sales is still 27% below the peak level, suggesting that prices are still significantly lower than they were in the last boom. 

Some of this pick up is driven by new homes, with purchasers having to equip them from scratch. The lowest point was in 2013 when only 8,300 new homes were connected, but this has increased each year since, with 14,932 new homes connected in 2016, all of which would have required equipment and furnishings. Based on information to the end of September, it is expected that the number for this year will be about 15,450 in total, which is only a 3% increase on last year.


The Home Renovation Incentive

The Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) scheme has also stimulated a lot of spending on household goods, as well as being a considerable support for the building trades and related retail sectors.  There have been 101,232 projects completed under this scheme since its introduction in October 2013, with a gross spending value of €1.6 billion. 10,655 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.


Types Of Household Equipment

Household equipment is the sum of three categories of household goods: furniture and lighting; hardware, paints and glass; and electrical goods. While all three categories are now experiencing 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. Despite being slower to recover, furniture and lighting comes next is now growing at the fastest rate, up 16% for the year to the end of September, slightly above the last peak.

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. However, it has picked up noticeably this year, up by 9% in volume terms for the year to the end of September.


Housing Shortage

Unlike the retail sector, the property sector continues to face unprecedented shortages, with housing demand of at least 30,000 units per annum currently. Although the evidence suggests that construction activity is picking up, it will be a number of years until supply catches up. A range of indicators, planning permissions, commencements and the Construction Purchasing Managers Index, point to a rapidly expanding sector, albeit off a low base.

The number of residential property sales is also picking up, despite the tight supply. 33,096 sales have been recorded up to the end of September, up 10%, signalling a total of 50,000 for the full year.

Every house purchase, whether new or second hand, provokes some spending on household goods, everything from paint and paper, to furniture and fittings. Lending for house purchase, and top-up loans for home renovations is also growing fast. Mortgage approvals for home purchase were up by 34% in the first nine months of 2017, for a total of 24,102, and top-up mortgages were up by 52% suggesting more spending under the home renovation scheme.

Despite the housing supply crisis we continue to face, the market for household goods looks to be in for a positive future.


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.


Tags:  consumer market monitor 

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The first Christmas ads of 2017 are out!

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Tuesday 7 November 2017

With Halloween just behind us, brands aren't wasting any time and Christmas ads have started popping up all over TV and the Internet. Christmas is the most anticipated time of the year for advertisers and consumers alike and creativity is at its best. Here's a look at the first batch of Christmas ads for 2017!


Vodafone - Christmas Love Story

Actor Martin Freeman is the lead in Vodafone’s series of short films distributed on TV, digital and social media. The ads follow Martin’s character as his Christmas love story unfolds, made possible by Vodafone’s products and services.


Aldi - Kevin The Carrot 2017

Following last year’s success Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot is back. This time he is chasing love on a train, nod at the “Murder on the Orient Express” film which was just released (and that explains the dead gingerbread man!).


M&S - Paddington & The Christmas Visitor #LoveTheBear

Also tied in to a film release is M&S’ feel-good campaign featuring Paddington the bear who unknowingly saves Christmas. The integrated campaign includes TV ads, gifs for social media, a hashtag #LoveTheBear and bespoke content.


Asda – Best Christmas Ever

Asda’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” inspired ad follows a young girld and her grandfather into the “Imaginarium”, a magical world where Asda employees are absorbed in the preparation of this year’s Christmas food.


Toys 'R' Us - Geoffrey the Part Time Reindeer

Toys 'R' Us take the animation path this year with this light-hearted short film. It features brand ambassador Geoffrey the Giraffe, who steps up when Santa’s reindeers get distracted by the many toys in store.


Lidl - Every Lidl Thing For Christmas

Lidl released not one but three TV ads for this Christmas. The Cavalier Carvers, the Mince Pies Mavericks and the Double Dipper celebrate the characters that we – knowingly or not - become at Christmas time.


John Lewis – Under the Bed?

As for the much-awaited John Lewis Christmas ad, Internet users have been speculating about a mysterious tweet that appeared on Monday…


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Vizeum Connection Points: October Industry Updates

Posted By Vizeum, Tuesday 7 November 2017

Vizeum Industry Updates


The OOH market grew once again in Q3 and in the full year to date it is 2% ahead of the same period in 2016. This is after a very challenging Q2.



Instagram have announced that you can now run lead generation ads through Instagram Stories.



Twitter have launched a new video website card product- which when you click to watch the video it will open in a new view with the website content loaded below it, similar to Facebook’s video offering.



Facebook launched a new feature, 3D Posts, which allow users to post 3D objects directly to their news feeds. This is an effort to push its Oculus headsets.



Irish-owned independent publisher Zahra Publishing has merged with Eumom, an Irish parenting community website working in digital, press and social spaces.



Snapchat will start adding relevant partner content via ‘context cards’ to stories – using partners like TripAdvisor, Uber, Lyft and more, which can connect you to local services.



From Thursday this week DoubleClick Bid Manager will only buy a publisher’s inventory from sources identified as authorised sellers through the use of ads.txt on site.



Star Wars The Last Jedi; released on December 14th, is tipped to be the highest grossing film globally this year in terms of box office admissions.


Vizeum's promise is to drive business value through media for our clients. Established in 2004, Vizeum is structured to take full advantage of the opportunities brought about by the digitization of media. The company manages its client business via a partner structure. This ensures that every client has senior advisors managing their business. These senior points of contact develop integrated strategies across the entire bought, owned and earned media ecosystem. We then have the specialist skills in house to deliver that strategy in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

Vizeum sponsors The Marketing Institute's Marketing Breakfast series.

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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, Wednesday 1 November 2017
Updated: Tuesday 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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