The latest Bellwether report finds marketers increasingly optimistic about the prospects for their companies and industry sectors. The Bellweather report is a quarterly survey of 300 senior marketers from the UK’s top companies.
The report is regularly used as a measure of business confidence.
In the first survey of 2014, the Q1 report confirms that confidence is reflected in the number of those surveyed planning to increase their budgets for this year. 40 per cent reported a planned increase in spending – up from 25.8 per cent in the last survey. Just 14 per cent said they were planning to trim budgets and the net balance – 26 per cent – was the highest return for seven years.
One of the most telling statistics from the Bellwether Report is the suggestion that the additional money spent in the first quarter was spent on traditional media channels. The net balance of those increasing their spend on “main media” – television, radio, outdoor and print – increased to 11.7 per cent compared to online media’s 8.5 per cent. This is the first time main media had beaten digital into second place in almost three years. The report does not speculate on the reasons for this. Perhaps the response rates and ROI on traditional methods such as direct mail services remain more attractive than on digital based marketing methods. The spend on channels such as display, social and search was also down – by almost 10 per cent, despite the fact that such channels are traditionally seen as low cost but more efficient.
UK economy grows
The author of the IPA Bellwether Report, and chief economist at Markit, Chris Williamson, was upbeat about the current business and marketing spend. He explained that the spring Bellwether Report had shown the most positive trends since the study first began in 2000 within the field of business and marketing spend.
He went on to point to the total marketing spend for last year as a good example, with the figure being the largest rise seen since 2006, with the amount for 2014 anticipated to be even higher.
The head economist said that although budgets had already been increased since 2006, companies had gone on to revise them even higher. These rises had been recorded at levels not previously seen in the 14 years since the survey started, thus providing an extremely upbeat prediction for the remainder of 2014.
Mr Williamson referred to the “growing optimism” in the economic climate, with businesses “ramping up” their expenditure for marketing and advertising. He also observed that as an increase in marketing spend was typically reflected in the expenditure for business investment, the signs for an auspicious 2014 were promising, predicting growth of around 3% for the year.
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