Despite it all- we still want our cake and to eat it too

June 20, 2011




The so called mantra of the post recession consumer as a person that has pared back, cut out and stays at home I believe is somewhat a common misconception. Whilst yes, we are getting greener fingers in our new found allotments,  whilst we are proud to announce our bargains from LIDL and the rise of the Come Dine with me circles are the new supper clubs, have we really detoxified and let go of our acquired habits and culture that the Celtic Tiger bred?

Whilst NAMA rampages us on one hand- on the other hand all too frequently I get a sniff of the Celtic Cub lurking around the corner, whether it be the plethora of children in their expensive celebratory First Holy Communion outfits (a recent survey by Milward Browne said each outfit costs on average €213) or most recently the numerous limousines I saw dropping excited teenagers off to Take That.

It seems that with the onset of the recession, we may have temporarily swapped to “own brand” labels and supermarket dine in for two deals meant dining out was the new “dining in”; however the adjustment wasn’t for long. A recent statistic released by Bord Bia, revealed that eating out is still very much on the menu for Irish Diners with almost half (46%) eating out at least once a month, the only difference being now that 80% of them are willing to query the cost of an item on a bill.

Are these subtle signs that we are emerging from economic recession or simply our struggle with the frugality of Keeping Down with the Jones versus our acquired mentality of Keeping up with the Jones? I believe that the latter is true, you can’t give a child a lollipop and then try and take it back, likewise with adults, we still want our Chanel bag, but at the right price, thus giving rise to the “bargain-ista” and haggler within us.

The “bargain-ista” and value driver consumer has been born out of our desire to retain some of life little luxuries acquired during the “Hey Days”.  Our appetite has been largely satisfied by the rise of Group buying websites such as Citydeals, Livingsocial,  Grabone, pigsback, Boardsdeal, Dealrush to name but a few. The concept behind group buying sites is that by coming together as a group, consumers can leverage their collective buying power. Businesses offer a massively discounted deal for a limited period of time on the condition that a minimum number of customers sign up for the deal. The mushrooming of these sites in Ireland is a clear reflection of their success in fulfilling the Irish consumer’s desire.

In short we are still eating out, we are still buying houses – In April, one of the biggest ever property auctions sold 80 of the 81 lots in a packed Shelbourne Hotel with a turnover of €15 million, thanks to the scrappage scheme we are still buying new cars, personal trainer and boot camp culture is still very much alive and we are keeping our homes chic as we have embraced the “flat pack culture”, Ikea boasted a €11.4 million profit in Ireland as Irish shoppers spend €2 million a week.

So, whilst we may re-cycle, re-use, re-invent we will not return to the past, we see connectivity, entertainment and treats as a “right” we have gained, we have simply adjusted to our circumstances and overcome to retain life luxuries, we will barter,  we will negotiate and can we haggle? Is feidir linn… yes we can.



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