Q4 2021 Bellwether Report

UK companies revise marketing budgets up but Omicron slows growth

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 2021 survey:

  • Total marketing budgets expand further in fourth quarter as recovery continues
  • Emergence of Omicron variant, rising inflation and supply-chain disruption weigh on budget growth and business sentiment
  • Adspend growth forecast for 2022 subsequently lowered, but sharp increase still expected
  • 2022/23 marketing budgets set for big boost as firms plan to step up recovery efforts

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

"It is very welcome news that UK marketing budgets continue to be revised upwards. As we can see, however, Omicron has heightened uncertainty, altered consumer behaviour and subsequently impacted UK companies’ marketing budget decision making. Going forward, new variants – alongside supply chain issues and heightened inflation - may indeed induce further wobbles. The key for businesses to weather these fluctuations will be, where possible, to invest in the longer-term and in brand-building media. As the evidence proves, brands that continue to invest in their marketing throughout the toughest of times come out on top."