Q1 2024 Bellwether Report

UK marketing budget growth cools in Q1, but remains strong amid positive 2024/25 outlook

The IPA Bellwether Report is a quarterly survey outlining companies’ marketing spend intentions and financial confidence.

The Bellwether Report is researched and published by S&P Global on behalf of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. The report features original data drawn from a panel of around 300 UK marketing professionals and provides a key indicator of the health of the economy. The survey panel has been carefully selected to represent all key business sectors, drawn primarily from the nation’s top 1000 companies.

Key findings from the Q1 2024 IPA Bellwether Report:

  • UK companies’ total marketing budgets see second-strongest upturn since Q2 2022, with growth cooling slightly from Q4 2023's near decade peak
  • Events budgets expand at fastest rate on record, with 2024/25 expected to be another strong year for the segment
  • Main media advertising budgets revised lower for first time in three quarters

Commenting on the latest survey, IPA Director General Paul Bainsfair said:

"Spring is in the air, bringing with it a greater sense of optimism in the UK economy and in UK companies’ marketing spend intentions for the year ahead.

"Ahead of a suspected lightening-up on some economic pressures closer to home in the coming months, and despite wider geo-political uncertainties, UK companies are once again recognising the value of advertising by revising their spend up this quarter.

"One note of caution, however, is that we seeing companies revert to upping their promotional spend while revising their main media spend down – a trend that had been bucked over the past couple of quarters. While sales promotions can stimulate short-term sales increases, the evidence also shows that their over-use can undermine a brand’s profit margins and pricing power over time by habituating consumers to buy mainly on price. As always, a careful balance needs to be struck to ensure longer-term growth, for which greater investment in brand advertising, particularly in main media, pays dividends."