Q3 2020 Bellwether Report

UK marketing budgets continue to contract markedly amid impact of COVID.

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

The Bellwether Report is researched and published by IHS Markit 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 Q3 2020 survey:

  • Total marketing budgets continue to contract sharply, albeit at a softer rate than in Q2
  • Coronavirus pandemic leads to sharp declines in adspending across all monitored categories
  • Sentiment towards both industry-wide and own-company financial prospects remains in negative territory, but moves towards stabilisation
  • Economic forecast points to a marked decline in UK marketing budgets this year, followed by a robust recovery in 2021

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

"While Q2 marked the nadir for UK marketing budgets, we had hoped for a slightly sharper rebound to UK marketing budgets this quarter than we see here. With a second wave of COVID-19, coupled with ongoing Brexit negotiations, including bracing for no-deal, I think green shoots in the immediate term are increasingly unrealistic. We are at the mercy of these macro trends and we can’t know for sure right now whether it will be a V-shaped, U-shaped or perhaps a W-shaped recovery. What we do know, however, is that the evidence proves that those who can invest in marketing during the downturn will reap rewards in both the short and longer term. They will increase their brand recognition, strengthen their brand positioning and get ahead of the competition. In fact, because many advertisers do not heed this advice, just maintaining spend at normal levels leads to a greater share of voice and in turn greater brand share."