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Strong Consumer Economy Growth Back To 2007 Levels - Latest CMM

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Monday 15 February 2016

New findings from the quarterly Consumer Market Monitor (CMM), published today by The Marketing Institute of Ireland and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, show that consumer spending is making a significant contribution to Ireland’s economic growth. 

This report, covering quarter four of 2015 and also providing a review of the full year, highlights the recovery in consumer spending and its reflection of the “pent up demand” from rapidly growing sales of “big ticket” items – new cars, homes and home furnishings, electrical goods and other consumer durables. 


Consumer spending looks set to keep an upward trajectory this year and for the foreseeable future - driven by figures of 1.98 million people currently at work, up by 158,000 since the low point in 2012, and the evidence suggests that pay increases of about 2% were common in 2015, and likely to happen again in 2016.

These factors led to a remarkable increase in the amount of disposable income that is circulating in the economy. Gross disposable income increased by an estimated 7.5% in 2015, an increase level not seen since the boom times.  

Increased consumer confidence was also seen in the sales of new cars which were up 30% on 2015. Lower fuel prices have also helped, as will the reductions in tax and social charges coming through in January 2016.

Retail sales are also improving significantly; sales volume rose by 3.7% in 2014 and this upward trend accelerated in 2015, with sales volume up by 6.2%. All retail categories got a boost in recent quarters, and the evidence suggests that 2016 is delivering sales growth for most retailers. 

Sales of services have also been strengthening, up 4.1% for the year 2014, and up by 5.8% for 2015. 

Sales of household goods have been particularly notable, most notably furniture and lighting up by 19%, electrical goods up 10%, and hardware, paints and glass up 5%. 

However, the appetite for home improvements has not been matched by property sales. There were approximately 42,400 residential properties sold in 2015, up by just 6% on 2014, suggesting that tighter lending rules are holding back house purchases. The number of new mortgages issued in 2015 was also muted, up 19% year-on-year for a total of 22,767, indicating that cash buyers still account for more than 50% of transactions. 

The indicators are that the consumer economy is now growing strongly, with all types of spending increasing, apart from fuel. In sum, consumer spending is now back to a level of about €90 billion, close to the previous peak in 2007. Before we start to fear a new bubble building, however, we need to remember that a normal healthy market would have grown in the interim years, so we should probably be at a level of between €100 and €110 billion by now without the recession. This suggests that we still have some way to go to get back on track in the consumer economy.  

Consumer confidence in Ireland is now well ahead of the last peak in 2007, and also well ahead of our European neighbours.


Household disposable income rose by 3% in 2013, the first increase since 2008, and continued to grow through to 2014 and 2015, but at a faster rate - this increase exceeding the growth rates of the Celtic Tiger era.


Borrowing by Irish consumers grew at a record level from 2000 onwards and peaked in March 2008 at €150 billion, but has declined steadily since then, down 39% from 2008 to €92 billion in Q3 2015. Household debt is reducing at a rate of about 2.8% per annum. The figures show that lending to Irish households fell again in Q4, while deposits rose sharply.  

The rate at which Irish households have reduced their debt is quite remarkable, surpassing most other countries – with household debt as a percentage of income having decreased by 33%.


Sales of new cars experienced a major turnaround in 2014, with 92,361 units sold, a 30% increase on the previous year. This buoyancy continuing through 2015, with 121,110 new private cars licensed, a rise of 31% for the year. Sales of second hand cars are also thriving, with almost 950,000 transactions in 2015, which was up 8% on 2014.

Retail sales excluding the motor trade are also improving; sales volume rose by 3.7% in 2014 while value increased by 1.5% indicating a significant upturn in activity. Retail sales growth accelerated further in 2015, with volume up by 6.7% in Q4, year-on-year, and value up 3.3%.

All product categories except fuel experienced growth in Q4 2015. Most remarkable is the significant growth displayed by sectors that have been particularly weak throughout the recession, such as bars and newsagents. In summary: 

  • Food sales up 4.5% in volume and up 3.3% in value; 
  • Non-specialised stores (supermarkets) up 4.8% in volume and 3.6% in value; 
  • Fuel down -2.0% in volume and down -10.8% in value;
  • Clothing, footwear & textiles up 7.4% in volume and 4.1% in value; 
  • Household equipment up 10.1% in volume and 6.1% in value;
  • Department stores up 8.8% in volume and 5.6% in value;
  • Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics up 7.4% in volume and 3.7% in value;
  • Bar sales up 5.8% in volume and up 6.4% in value.
  • Books, newspapers, stationery up 1.3% in volume and 2.8% in value; 

Overall, retail sales are back on a strong growth path, getting stronger in each successive quarter of 2015. This positive momentum bodes well for continuing growth through the rest of 2016 and into future years, reflecting the broad-based strengthening of the economic fundamentals in the Irish consumer market.

Mary Lambkin, Professor of Marketing, UCD Smurfit School, and one of the authors of the Monitor, said: “Consumer spending accounts for over 50% of GNP in Ireland and is a critical factor in driving recovery in the economy. The level of consumer spending is fundamentally dependent on the amount of disposable income circulating, and this has increased significantly in the last year as a result of more people at work. In fact, the increase in disposable income last year was back to the sort of level that we have not seen since the Celtic Tiger years. This increase in incomes, together with greater availability of credit, is leading to accelerated spending on many categories of goods and services."

Tom Trainor, Chief Executive, The Marketing Institute, said: “Despite massive national debt and a shaky banking system, it is great to see consumer confidence reaching its highest level in a decade, as this is driving spending which is in turn enabling many businesses to grow and expand employment.”




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Digital Customer Experiences: Can Machines Make An Emotional Connection?

Posted By Inga Ryan,, Friday 12 February 2016

Customer experience includes those experienced through a digital interface. Researching a product online, using a mobile app to find a store’s nearest location, searching for tech support information on a smartphone—are all digital customer experiences. 

Irish people the world over excel in making emotional connections. However, bringing consistent humanisation to digital interactions appears to be a major challenge for Irish business. This doesn’t have to be the case. 

Achieving a personalised interface is critical to making an emotional connection and can be done in a similar way to face to face interactions. It involves building relationships. Like with any relationship this takes time. 

The first step is to give an impressively reliable and intuitive digital experience and so win customer confidence. Gaining this confidence is important so we can then ask questions and the information garnered allows us to segment and personalise each future interaction. research found that people expect seamless online experiences. They are reassured when they receive confirmation of order emails and further notification when goods are dispatched and an estimated time of arrival. We discovered that the reverse is also true, if you fail to take these steps customers are not only likely to complain but also to advocate against your brand.

Irish business generally considers digital as a stand alone business channel with its own objectives, which are dealt with separately and not as part of the overall picture. It asks “how can the use of technology save us money and increase efficiencies?” This results in siloed thinking whereas a holistic approach is needed. In the USA the approach is different and business asks itself “What can we do to give the customer what s/he wants and delight them, on all channels?” This leads to a cohesive, relevant omni-channel experience, resulting in ease of use and happy customers.

Retail is an obvious area in need of better online platforms. Over 75% of Irish online purchases are spent abroad which emphasizes the importance of optimal online engagement. Most supermarkets and retailers have a fairly basic online proposition and we have a lot to learn in this area. recommends we learn from those who do it brilliantly. For starters we must engage with customers via social media and respond to customer queries and complaints quickly.  Online CX experts use photographs and video or live TV to make the experience feel real. Their interface is streamlined, intuitive and easy to use. They develop a tone of voice that reflects who they are and what they stand for. They collect customer data and segment it to make suggested offerings relevant to each individual. 

Before all this we need to get the basic offering right. 


With one click on their website you know that they can give you what you are looking for. There are visual windows to every department. Their Community section with live cookery and cosmetics demonstrations offer advice which feels like a cosy chat with a friend. They also offer a deferred payment option which is very tempting when you see that special something!


Rabo Direct has a consistently friendly conversational tone of voice over all of their platforms, and it works. This is especially effective in the banking industry, where technospeak is the norm. Irish consumers consider the Rabo Direct website “Quick and easy to use”, “very straight forward” and they are “Reassured by immediate email confirmations when they make a transaction”. It doesn’t take much to stand out in this way and yet it makes a big difference. It’s interesting that even though their platforms are telephone or online, they are considered to be a “great bunch”. No queues mean that customers feel looked after. 


Amazon leverages their “machine experience” predictions brilliantly. They seem to know more about customer needs than the customer herself does (!) and their digital communications feel human. Consumer are relieved to have Amazon taking the onus of thinking ahead to what they need and want and they know the suggestions are relevant because, after all, predictions are based on their own preferences. But these predictions are the result of much research and data analysis.


With family membership each individual has a login under their own name and TV shows are recommended to each individual.  Not only is this a comfort to a parent but also gives a sense of ownership to younger family members. 

The above is a snapshot of tools that will help create an emotional connection with your customer. It is critical that Irish business exploit this facet of digital engagement in a world where consumers demand more and more instant gratification.


Inga Ryan runs is a community of likeminded professionals tasked with achieving CX excellence within their organisations. We provide services including consumer research (resulting in the CX Ireland 2015 Report), customised CX debriefs, the annual CX festival, networking opportunities and a resource library.


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The Marketing Institute & Edelman Social Media Survey

Posted By the Marketing Institute & Edelman, Wednesday 3 February 2016

The Marketing Institute of Ireland and Edelman Ireland have partnered to produce the 2nd Annual Social Media Survey. 

This survey aims to identify Irish marketing professionals attitudes and behaviours towards incorporating Social Media into their marketing strategies.

The survey is open to all marketing professionals in Ireland and only takes a minute to complete. All respondents will automatically be entered into a draw to win a luxury Afternoon Tea for two at one of Dublin’s finest hotels.



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Mintel's European Trends 2016 - An Overview

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Tuesday 2 February 2016

Bright and early on Thursday, 21 January, 2016, Mintel’s Senior Trends Consultant, Richard Cope, delivered a talk on Marketing Trends for 2016, at a Marketing Institute breakfast, where his five main predictions were established for 2016.


Explored the growing demand for water free and concentrated products, as people become more sensitive to the threats to water supply in developed areas. Some of the reasons for the increased level of conscientiousness include:

  • Effects of drought on agriculture in countries we depend on for imports such as almonds, oranges, tea, coffee
  • The proposed introduction of water taxes in Ireland – the “luxury” of free water threatened
  • Developed areas such as California and Sao Paulo suffering water shortages – it could happen anywhere

The effects of this trend can be seen in innovative services such as Waterless car washes and in beauty products such as dry shampoo, cleansing lotions and face wipes.


The Netherlands are currently leading in beacon based marketing and the rest of Europe are expected to follow this trend. Beacon technology is being used in innovative ways such as ‘smart shelves’ (which allow you to tap on a product and view information regarding ingredients, sourcing production etc.), for recognising returning customers to give them loyalty benefits and even to remember individual customer orders in restaurants that they visit frequently.

Customer surveys indicate that people are willing to give more information to the shops they like, if the promotions they receive are relevant to their specific wants and needs. Statistics show that:

  • 50% of UK stores use location based technologies to track their customers
  • 30% intend to use this to send promotional offers and targeted offers to customers
  • 26% of people in R.I. say that they are willing to give brands they like personal information- although the actual percentage of people who do so without realising is much higher.


TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business between the EU and the US. This has stemmed fears of weakening the EU Regulations on sourcing, ingredients and ethical matters.  Notably, 70% of food in US supermarkets have been genetically modified.

Perhaps as a result of this, the demand for organic food (chemical and pesticide free) and artisan products (craft beers, coffees, sauces, soft drinks) is on the increase – especially in France and Germany.

Alternative (meat free, gluten free, dairy free) food products are becoming more popular – 2016 has been dubbed the ‘International Year of the Pulse’ (legume).

Other developments in this trend:

  • Big companies such as McDonalds and Chipotle are going GM Free.
  • Organic food is becoming more affordable.
  • Supermarkets are sourcing their products locally.


Reducing Wait Time

The aging population calls for better service on home deliveries – People expect faster delivery time. In supermarkets, you can now have your order delivered to your door in 1 or 2 hours (varies between competitive supermarkets) Car boot deliveries are becoming popular due to convenience.

Increase In Need For Space

Due to urbanisation, there is less space available than there used to be. By 2050, 70% of the worlds’ population will live in cities. People are becoming thriftier - 57% of people in the UK say they borrow/rent rather than buy where possible.

A lack of space in built up areas means that people renting smaller places to live but also renting storage space. Renting as an alternative to buying (homes, cars, and machines etc.) increases transience which means less commitment.


Augmented reality in marketing is being used to reassure clients in a very clever way. For example, before booking a holiday resort, it is possible to do a virtual tour of the complex to help the consumer decide if they’re making the right decision prior to purchase. Research on this trend suggests that:

  • 50% of consumers are aware of augmented reality 
  • 33% of consumers are interested in augmented reality

These figures are expected to increase as new developments in this area gather the attention of their target audience and the media.

Entertainment wise, the younger generations are particularly interested in it. Virtual concerts, sports games, marathons and in-flight movies are just some of the uses for augmented reality in the entertainment world.

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Mindset Shifts For Media Monitoring

Posted By Kantar Media, Monday 1 February 2016

Both the media landscape and media monitoring have changed significantly in recent years. There is now more information available than ever for companies to monitor, so today’s media monitoring is much, much more than just clip counts…

Media monitoring data can also be applied in different ways: for example, to identify the potential scope of a reputation issue very quickly and possibly contain it; to understand the value of their efforts in PR, digital marketing, or content marketing more easily; identify cultural nuances across markets or benchmark against competitors…

This involves some fairly fundamental mindset changes that organisations and brands will need to honour if they expect to thrive during these changing times.
So take a breath and let’s shift the way we view media monitoring…

This article was originally published on


Kantar Media Reputation Intelligence is a global leader in media monitoring and analysis. We provide key insight so you stay ahead of your competitors. Our experts dissect the media to provide you with vital information that will ensure you're prepared for whatever happens and make all the difference to your media strategy.


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