Q4 2023 Bellwether Report

UK companies revise their marketing budgets up to strongest levels in almost a decade

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 Q4 2023 IPA Bellwether Report:

  • Total UK marketing budgets see strongest upward revisions since Q2 2014
  • Preliminary budget setting suggests 2024 will be a strong year for UK marketing executives, despite recession forecasts for beginning of the year
  • Events marketing budgets continue to grow rapidly, with this trend set to carry through into the 2024/25 financial year
  • Bellwether firms turn at their most bullish on company-own prospects since Q3 2021, although the sentiment at the industry-wide level remains downbeat

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

“Despite the challenging economic climate, this quarter’s upbeat Bellwether findings show that companies are heeding the evidence that continuing to advertise through the tough times can help maintain brand loyalty and protect the long-term health of their brands.

“However, we also saw anecdotal feedback that some companies noted plans to price their goods and services more competitively in a bid to gain market share. While this is good news for the consumer, it is further proof that companies are experiencing a tough trading environment.

“On this point, with the evidence showing that investing in advertising helps protect sales when businesses raise prices, it may prove more profitable for companies to increase their advertising than reduce their pricing.”