2016 marks the centenary of the most important year on Ireland’s journey to independence so Autumn 2015 seemed like the right time to look towards the future.
As the 17th OMD market across the globe to launch a Future of project, our ambition was to launch a comprehensive overview of what the Irish consumer believes the future holds for them, personally and indeed for all of us collectively. What it wasn’t was a forecast – no GDP estimates, or technology projections – nor did we set out different scenarios for the future. Instead, our report was an attempt to capture and encourage the Irish conversation about the future: the one in our families, communities, workplaces and with our friends.
We listened to the hopes, dreams, fears and ambitions of over a thousand people in focus groups and a survey, looking for the words, themes and vocabulary that people use when talking about the future – both their own and our nation’s. We haven’t asked the experts or pundits for their opinion. We simply asked people from all over Ireland about the things that matter to them and to their loved ones.
As a small market, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver on this ambition without the support of Ulster Bank who, whilst not being a client, partnered with us to bring our vision to life as it fit perfectly with their ‘Help For What Matters’ strategy. This allowed us, amongst other things to engage a young photographer – David Gerulis – who captured the people, their visions and the place so brilliantly.
If there is one over-arching theme in the Future of Ireland study so far, it is that people want to take control of their future. Whether in terms of finances, skills or health; we seem to be entering an age in which people no longer rely on traditional authorities and leaders for guidance. It’s a theme that recurs repeatedly through many of the sub-themes in our study. These are as follows:
- Hope, relating to the prospects for renewal as recovery gathers momentum
- Belonging, about our sense of identity in a changing world
- Family, on the changing nature but continuing importance of family and friendship in Ireland
- Change, the growing awareness of the new forces shaping our economy and society
- Happiness, looking at the things that matter most, and will matter most in making us happy
- Destiny, a look ahead to new sources of influence, and declining sources, as we plan our own future
Ten years ago no one would have believed that 60% of those interviewed – including those over 60 – would think that marriage will become less relevant in the future or that 10% of the Irish population would think that, due to global warming, Ireland will become a commercial wine producer in the next 10 years!
So what is the future for The Future of Ireland? In April, following both a General Election and the centenary celebrations, we will embark on Phase 2. This will focus largely on the youth sector (16-24 year olds) – after all, they are the future and according to the existing study are likely to become increasingly influential. We also hope to look at food and what the future looks with health and well-being which is becoming increasingly important.