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Opinion: How to Leave Limboland

Finian Murphy, Marketing Director of Core.

With continued uncertainty, political leaders have a challenging job to re-connect with the Irish public to reassure them that there is a plan, writes Finian Murphy.

In Core’s Consumer  Mindset report, Naomi Staff wrote about society being in “limbo land,” and the data in our latest report for April report would suggest, this still  holds true.

In many ways, this isn’t unique to Ireland. This month alone, there is potential political change in India, where close to one billion people can vote; there is conflict in the Middle East with uncertain impacts on oil prices; and the US House of Representatives is pushing to ban Chinese owned Tik Tok. This global change may seem insignificant to political parties in Ireland gearing up for local elections in June, however, these local elections are likely to reveal how the public feels about the political system..

A new Government will be established within 12 months, ahead of this, the three coalition parties are setting out their stalls and promises on tax cuts, policing, housing and climate actions. To what extent do the Irish public believe their everyday expenses will be addressed and do they believe long-term uncertainty in areas such as housing can be overcome?

In April, consumers’ economic outlook remains relatively subdued, with the cost-of-living concerns impacting 49% of people. In addition, the overall Core Direction Score in March has seen a slight decline to +4.9 in April.. Although most people report improvements in their living situations, one-third say these are worsening. Most people feel like their own state of mind, sense of fun and joy and social connections are improving. However, the same proportion of people say respect and societal care is getting worse.

Despite full employment, and a relatively content public, there is an underlying concern that specific parts of society need to be addressed.

With continued uncertainty about housing stock, and waiting lists for healthcare, school and childcare places, there is a risk that people are not able to make long-term plans. In an election year, politicians will need to work hard to convince voters how their policies will help the public to plan.

However, we also know that people will make decisions based on the affect heuristic. This is when we often rely on our emotions, rather than concrete information, when making decisions, including who to vote for.

Since early March, there has been over 30,000 Irish web articles and videos about the appointment of Simon Harris. In comparison, Cillian Murphy winning an Oscar received just over 5,000 articles. Despite these differences in coverage, the same level of public resonance was attributed to Cillian as there was to the new Taoiseach.

In fact, when asked how people emotionally responded to the appointment of Simon Harris, 62% of people said they had no emotional feeling towards the appointment. This indicates that an Irish actor’s global recognition can resonate more profoundly within Irish society than extensive coverage of a political event.

As we face months ahead of political jostling, it is worth noting that 56% of people do not believe that Irish politicians understand what the people of Ireland need, and those aged 35-54 years old are most likely to hold this belief and have no confidence in Simon Harris as a leader.

However, in general, 59% of the public have various levels of confidence that Simon Harris will do a good job as Taoiseach. As a prolific user of Tik Tok, could his updates resonate more with citizens?

Maybe the new leader can learn from this month’s report, which reveals that brands in the grocery sector are resonating with people in terms of “making a positive impact” on consumer’s lives. Through a combination of celebrating moments of joy and communicating price cuts, one in three people said supermarkets were creating positive impact.

Time will tell if the new political leader can translate his communication skills and messages into practical plans which emotionally resonate with people and increase the confidence of consumers into 2025.

Finian Murphy is marketing director of Core.

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