As we draw towards the end of a most extraordinary year, I am left scratching my head asking, “Did that really happen?”.
For Guaranteed Irish it has been a bumper year. There is an increased interest in buying Irish, businesses and consumers alike have finally recognised the importance of a ‘circular economy’. According to Red C Research, 92% of consumers believe they help the local economy by purchasing Guaranteed Irish products and services. And 90% associate a circular economy as good for the environment.
2020 saw Guaranteed Irish launch a year-long communications campaign across radio, print, podcasts, webinars and we even aired our very first ‘Guaranteed Irish’ TV series, with the assistance of Dundara productions and TG4. The programme will have reached 600,000 viewers by the year end. The organisation with all its channels reached a readership of 16 million and delivered a PR value of €600,000 while attaining an advertising budget of €1.5 million, this year Guaranteed Irish, is certainly back in vogue. While this is all good news, it is critical that we keep the longest serving brand that enjoys a 90%+ recognition factor amongst consumers front and centre into the future. It was that symbol that represented “All that is good about Ireland” many years ago. Now in it’s new iteration, it means so much more with its diverse and inclusive definition of Irishness. Ireland can trade its way back to recovery, but we all need to lean in and buy from each other, (large and small, homegrown and international) champion each other.
A record number of businesses have joined Guaranteed Irish in 2020 and a record number of consumers have supported our business members. With over 10,000 visitors a day using the new portal GuaranteedIrishGifts.ie which was established to support local makers, producers and crafts, the desire to support local businesses was there to be captured. This portal will continue into 2021 as long as the demand is there to justify its existence. So please continue to refer to this portal to buy your birthday, christening, and valentines gifts. All the business that comes through the portal, goes directly to the producer/maker, keeping them in business. No commission is taken by Guaranteed Irish.
Similarly, GuaranteedIrishHouse.ie was established for the construction and engineering sector to offer architects, quantity surveyors and builders a one stop shop to source from Irish based local businesses and allows them to reduce their carbon footprint while sustaining jobs in Irish communities.
However, there is still a lot to be done.
For example, people need to understand, that supporting local does not equate to buying a product with a tri-colour, butterfly or smiley face sticker saying “I’m Irish” attached. Buyers must beware and do the research. Unless you see the G, it’s not Guaranteed Irish and it’s probably not supporting the jobs you think it does here in Ireland.
Nor does it help that local shops claim to be part of the ‘support local’ campaign, yet they don’t support Irish producers themselves. No-one is saying they must stock only Irish producers, but surely there is room to support one or two? A boutique that sells fashion from all over the world is just as welcome on our highstreets, after all we each want diversity and something different, but it would be nice if they created a space for one or two Irish fashion brands, accessory or lifestyle designers too. That’s what makes a Guaranteed Irish business #AllTogetherBetter. This in turn will lead to long term support from Irish consumers and that is what makes a business sustainable in good times and bad. So, retailers, please do consider making a little room for one of our up and coming Irish producer/designers as you face into 2021. If we can’t see it, we can’t buy it.
Guaranteed Irish is a not for profit business membership organisation that is open to all businesses based in Ireland who support jobs, communities and provenance. It continues to market and promote its businesses at home and abroad and looks forward to your support in 2021. If you wish to be part of the TV series, Guaranteed Irish, 2021, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us why you wish to participate. We are looking for 12 businesses and there is a cost to participating.
Opinion by Brid O’Connell CEO, Guaranteed Irish.