Brand reputation remains number one priority for marketers as lockdown restrictions ease, CIM survey shows

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A survey of current UK marketing priorities from the Chartered Institute of Marketing reveals that brand reputation remains key in coping with COVID-19. Six in ten marketers rank this as their number one priority, in contrast to discounts and promotions which came bottom of the list. The communication of employee and public safety messages came in at number two.  

Online sales were the highest ranked of sales promotional strategies, emerging as a top priority for 15% of marketers. Offering discounts and promotions to increase product sales and footfall was a very low priority for the vast majority of marketers (73%). Only 2% said it was their top priority. Similarly, generating in store footfall was only a top priority for 3% of marketers. 

Chris Daly, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, said: “Despite all the commercial challenges, it is reassuring to see reputation ranked first. It is clear that the UK marketing community is not prepared to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term pain. 

“However, with the lockdown loosening at the start of July, it is a concern not to see more confidence in promotional activity. Marketers have worked hard to maintain customer engagement during lockdown, as restrictions now ease it is key they make the most of this opportunity to help drive the recovery we are all hoping for.”

Marketing professionals hit hard by the pandemic but are confident the sector will bounce back

The research, compiled in August, also found a personal and financial impact on marketing professionals in the UK. One in ten (9%) of the respondents said that they had been made redundant, one in five (20%) reported that they had taken a pay cut and a similar proportion (17.5%) said that they had taken enforced holiday. 

If these statistics were replicated across the marketing profession, which CIM’s 2018  market sizing work with PWC estimated employs 415,000 people across the UK, we would be talking about in the region of 37,000 redundancies and 83,000 people taking pay cuts.  

Significant numbers of marketers also appear to have benefitted from the government’s furlough with one in six (17%) saying they had been placed on furlough during the period of the pandemic. 

Despite this, 87% of marketers felt confident or very confident that the marketing sector would bounce back after COVID-19. A finding that reflects recent research from Gartner, finding that 73% of CMOs globally expected the impact of COVID-19 to be short-lived (CMO Spend Survey Research, 2020).