‘Conscious consumers’ seek local and Irish products

The CEO of Guaranteed Irish, Brid O’Connell, who grew up on a dairy farm in west Limerick, has urged Irish farmers, food producers and companies to capitalise on the new breed of ‘conscious consumers’ who are specifically seeking local Irish products and produce.

Brid O’Connell said there is a strong desire among Irish consumers to buy locally and nationally, supporting Irish businesses.

83% of Irish consumers believe that they can help the local economy by buying guaranteed Irish brands, according to new research conducted by Red C. 63% of consumers surveyed declared a preference to buy guaranteed Irish brands from Irish businesses when shopping during Covid-19.

The research comes at a time when a large number of Irish businesses are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and buying Irish is seen by consumers as a tangible way of supporting trusted local businesses, Brid said.

Guaranteed Irish has 1,200 business members employing over 90,000 people with an annual Irish turnover of €11.2 billion, and a global turnover of €29.7 billion. The research was conducted by Red C on a nationwide sample of 1,019 Irish consumers between January and March 2020.

Enquiries about membership of Guaranteed Irish have quadrupled since the start of Covid-19, the CEO said.

Increased remote working

The research findings coincide with a new partnership agreement that will see Davy, a recent recipient of the Guaranteed Irish mark, sponsor the Guaranteed Irish business webinar series 2020.

The series is designed to facilitate business-to-business networking in an online format at a time of increased remote working. It will feature experts from Guaranteed Irish businesses such as Davy; KPMG; Matheson; and CBRE, focusing on issues of importance to Irish enterprises including developing roadmaps for the return to work.

Launched on a pilot basis when Covid-19 infection control measures were introduced in March, the series now has a weekly reach of over 13,500 listeners.

Davy’s entry into the Guaranteed Irish group will add to the business membership organisation’s ability to support the Irish economy, as Davy will work with the organisation to share relevant insights on economic analysis and financial market indicators, Brid said.

Pat Cooney, group head of private clients at Davy, said that the research is compelling.

“Irish consumers value and actively support trusted Irish brands and, like us, they view Guaranteed Irish as a badge of distinction and pride. Through the Davy Guaranteed Irish business webinar series 2020, we want to support and learn from exceptional Irish businesses and to assist one another during this challenging period and beyond.”

Supported and secure

Having been reared on a farm, Brid said she was a big advocate of making sure that agricultural enterprises were supported and secure. A big value piece is associated with sustainability and farmers and food producers could embrace this, but the emergence of Covid-19 had thrown a spanner in the works with this initiative, the CEO said.

‘Conscious consumers’ are actively seeking to support small local producers and Guaranteed Irish is all about small-scale producers and multinationals being ‘all together better’, Brid said. The organisation provides assistance with marketing and PR behind the scenes, she said.

Now is the time to be loud and proud about heritage and provenance. People are seeking this out and it is associated with doing the right thing.

Eating in-season strawberries recently just proved how delicious in-season quality Irish produce is, Brid said. Change is coming and demand needs to be created for more sales of local and Irish products, she commented.

“People want to know the provenance of what they are buying and they feel they are doing their bit as ‘conscious consumers’. The problem is that some businesses are branding their products as Irish where they are not, so consumers need to read the small print and look out for the Guaranteed Irish mark,” she said.

By buying produce such as Irish dairy and beef, ‘conscious consumers’ are keeping life in the heart of our communities. If we can help them market their produce and get a bigger voice, we will be happy to do that.

“Our organisation also provides an amazing network in which businesses learn and buy from each other. It is a no-brainer to be part of the group. We want to support jobs and if we can help a business stay alive, we are all over it,” Brid said.

“We are delighted to see people return to the desire to support ‘homegrown’ and are particularly proud to see the SuperValu food academy support these local producers and offer them security across the entire year as they find their feet and develop a new audience.”