Age of empathy


Colm Carey on why DAA is grounded by understanding consumer wants

It is the age of empathy and we all must be psychologists and psychotherapists. So believes Jan Richards, head of insights and planning at the DAA. Speaking at the Association of Advertisers in Ireland (AAI) seminar on turning insights into action, Richards says as global passenger numbers soar, airport capacity is the big obstacle to satisfying customer demand.

Research carried out by DAA has shown a marked improvement in customer satisfaction with Dublin Airport. The key to success has been to understand what matters to customers and to focus on getting things right. All of which makes perfect sense. Find out what people want and give it to them. What matters most to passengers is the airport cleanliness.

If you can’t keep the place spick-n-span, how can you be trusted to do all the high end stuff? Comfort at the gates follows, as does courtesy and friendliness of security staff. It is no surprise as the most stressful part of a trip is the public disrobing and revealing of baggage contents together with the chance of a frisk search if you bing as you go through security.

The upshot of the customer service campaign was the rise in satisfaction with the Dublin Airport experience. The measurable rise in satisfaction endorses the point made during Q&A by Tourism Ireland’s Peter Nash who noted that insight without impact will not generate buy in from senior management. Nash’s view is shared by Millward Brown planning director Robin McGhee, who emphasised the importance of pushing insight through the business.

McGhee presented a number of definitions of what constitutes insight in marketing terms. The definition that makes most sense to me is JWT’s view that an insight is a realisation rather than a revelation. Much in the way that North America existed quite happily before Columbus, consumers have knowledge that we can access and use to our advantage by listening carefully in a non-directive way rather than by asking too many questions.

If we don’t access such knowledge, consumers will trundle on quite happily while we may never know what we missed. McGhee referenced some examples of how great ads can result from great insight but the fact remains that despite all of the excitement generated by the insights industry, great ads are few and far between. Most of what we see is mediocre.


As we move away from the austerity of recession consumers are climbing back up the hierarchy of needs. We plummeted to the bottom as we lost cash and confidence. Price became a key issue and we moved to a retentive mind set that saw higher order needs replaced by those of survival and security, recent events hosted by Bord Bia indicate.

Data from the board’s Periscope study show that the emphasis placed on price when grocery shopping is dropping. Concern with the quality of fresh food is on the rise. The study across eight markets finds that the Chinese are most frequent users of convenience meals while the French lead the field in getting more enjoyment through cooking and food.

Bord Bia also looked at the world of food service which no doubt benefits from the Periscope finding that people want food that is easier to prepare and cook. Add to this, the fact that over a third of us believe we are too busy to cook as often as we would like and the future looks bright for those who exist to satisfy our food-based needs and wants.

Fast casual is on the up in restaurants. David Henkes of Technomics is referring to outlets whose menus feature prepared to order foods made with fresh produce at a price point between quick service and full service venues. So we are in the land of KC Peaches, Hatch & Sons and Sweet Sicily where the service is quick, the food is fresh and the ambience relaxed.

These are the kinds of places frequented by the much sought after Millenials and the upcoming Generation Z. They want variety and like ethnic themes and menu items. They like exhibition cooking via open kitchens using local and premium ingredients. They want places that sell good coffee and include drinks like artisan lemonades on the menu.

The median amount spent per person is €12. These are places people go with friends, partners and co-workers and they are poised for expansion in the coming years. Bord Bia’s research points to the growth of interest among private equity investors and full service operators. While the fast causal sector grows, BWG Group focuses more on food to go.

Revamped stores are giving extra space to seating to maximise the high margins available from prepared food rather than the low margins delivered by groceries. Innovation is key to survival. Consumers can expect to see a lot of changes in local convenience and forecourt outlets as the move to capture the food to go zeitgeist spreads across the land.

NO REPRO FEE 30/9/2013 2013 Dublin Airport Authority Sponsorship of Dublin Theatre Festival. The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) will be tweeting for Godot over the next three weeks with a multi-layered social media campaign to support its sponsorship of the 2013 Dublin Theatre Festival (DTF). Pictured is DAA employee Jennifer Ward getting into character. DAA is sponsoring the Gare St Lazare Players Ireland's DTF production of Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot', which is expected to be one of the highlights of this year's festival. Dublin Airport will use Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to promote the production and the festival in general. DAA has also installed soundbooths at Terminal 1 in Dublin Airport playing audio podcasts on the theme of waiting. Daily audio clips from the Gare St Lazare Players production of 'Waiting For Godot' are also being released on the airport's SoundCloud account. Competitions to win theatre tickets and shopping vouchers for The Loop will run on our Twitter and Facebook sites. This week a bowler-hat wearing 'chauffeur' will be at arrivals in either Terminal 1 or Terminal 2 at certain times holding a plain white sign saying 'Godot'. Dublin Airport will tweet to alert people to the chauffeur's presence and to win theatre tickets or shopping vouchers members of the public will have to approach him or her saying "I'm Godot". Dublin Airport has 50 theatre tickets and 25 shopping vouchers to be won at the airport this week. This new production by Gare St Lazare Players Ireland coincides with Godot's 60th anniversary. Gare St Lazare Players have performed their stage presentations of Beckett's work to great acclaim in more than 25 countries across six continents. They mark their return to Ireland with this major new production of 'Waiting for Godot' bringing their unique experience to bear on the Nobel Laureate's theatrical masterpiece. Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Operation terminals: DAA research shows a big improvement in customer satisfaction with Dublin Airport. The key has been to understand what matters to customers and to focus on getting things right. A top priority for passengers is airport cleanliness – a proxy for safety.

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