Q4 2020 Bellwether Report

UK marketing budgets continue to fall sharply at end of 2020.

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 Q4 2020 survey:

  • Total marketing budgets continue to decline markedly, despite the rate of reduction easing from Q3
  • Coronavirus pandemic remains the most significant factor weighing on marketing budgets
  • Sentiment regarding own-company financial prospects turns positive, but industry-wide outlook remains negative
  • Preliminary forecasts for 2021/2022 point to a recovery in total adspending

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

"It is no surprise that Q4 sees UK marketing budgets remain in negative territory. We are still in the grip of the pandemic and the impact of Brexit is uncertain, with some marketers citing concerns regarding the potential for tariffs, and increased paperwork, delays and costs. While the situation remains bleak for now, the Q4 2020 Report does, however, reveal significant promise of green shoots ahead. Budget plans for 2021/2022 are into positive territory. As the vaccination roll-out continues, as the lockdowns begin to ease and as firms adapt to post-Brexit rules, perhaps we can dare to ready ourselves for the roaring twenties after all. Those brands that have withstood the storm, kept their voices heard and their subsequent market share up, will be the ones consumers turn to first in the good times."