Jobs for the boys

Predictions in marketing are notoriously unreliable. Even when forecasting how much more they will earn in the coming 12 months, marketers appear prone to error. In last year’s salary survey, they expected to earn 5.9 per cent more during 1997. Instead, they reaped an extra 7.5 per cent on average.

Perhaps there is a wish to appear modest in aspiration. Or maybe marketers genuinely underestimate their worth. Either way, they continue to benefit from substantially higher pay rises than many industry sectors, and are certainly doing better than at almost any time in the Nineties. Will it last? There might be cause for doubt about the continued economic boom – marketers expect to receive only 5.2 per cent more during 1998, suggesting a downturn.

This could be a shame for the fortunes of women in the marketing industry. They continue to be significantly less well-paid than their male colleagues for doing the same jobs. Across all functions, the average salary for men and women is 32,432. But men earn 14 per cent more than average, at 36,931, while women earn the same proportion less than the average, at 27,763.

Women playing catch-up

Disparities are even greater among the top ten per cent of earners. Here, men are earning 16 per cent more than the 67,849 average, but women are on salaries 23 per cent below average. In fact, women are earning just two-thirds as much as men in these companies.

During the previous 12 months, however, women had been given slightly higher pay rises than men at 7.6 per cent to 7.4 per cent. If there is a downturn, the chances of women catching up appear to be limited. They may already have sensed this – their own forecasts are for rises of 5.1 per cent this year, while men expect 5.3 per cent.

To catch up, the best strategy for women appears to be to change jobs. Across the entire sample of marketers, ten per cent who had increased their salary did so by getting a new job. The average increase for those who moved was 14.4 per cent, compared with 13.3 per cent as a result of internal promotion and just 6.4 per cent from a pay review. One-third of those moving to a new job got a rise of more than 21 per cent, compared with 22 per cent who were internally promoted who got the same increase.

Interestingly, women were more dynamic in career terms, with 13 per cent of those who had increased their salaries having changed jobs to do so, compared with eight per cent of men. They also did better through internal promotions, with 28 per cent being preferred, against 24 per cent of men.

Women are more ambitious, too, with 52 per cent saying opportunities for advancement are very important against 49 per cent of men. Men could risk appearing to be slackers against this desire to succeed which women express. While 55 per cent of men say it is very important that they have challenging work, 66 per cent of female respondents want to be stretched. Women are less likely than men to agree to relocate to Europe, however, at 51 per cent to 65 per cent.

Part of the better-than-average findings for men in marketing may result from their historical dominance. Although the survey had a nearly-balanced male:female ratio of 51:49, men still occupy more senior positions. At the very top level of chairman, chief executive or managing director, there are four men to every woman. Even at marketing director level, 14 per cent of men hold this title, compared with four per cent of women.

Whether this will last depends on the career decisions made by women currently working lower down the ladder. Among male respondents, 35 per cent are marketing managers, but 38 per cent of women have this job. And while five per cent of men are group product managers compared with three per cent of women, 12 per cent of women are product managers against ten per cent of men.

Junior positions are still predominantly female – 13 per cent of women respondents were assistant product managers or marketing assistants, compared with just four per cent of men. Some specialist positions appear to suit women more, however. Three per cent of women are public relations managers, against just one per cent of men, with four per cent working as direct marketing managers (three per cent of men) and five per cent as research managers (four per cent of men).

Some male bastions remain unchallenged – there are four times as many men working as sales managers than women, for example.

Good career option

Given the dynamism of women in seeking promotion or new jobs, it is surprising that they are not yet tied into stricter contractual conditions. The majority (54 per cent) have to give less than one month’s notice, compared with 37 per cent of men, whereas 31 per cent of women have to give three months against 38 per cent of men. Eight per cent of men had to give between six and 12 months notice and three per cent had to give more than a year, while no women were on more than a six-month notice period.

If a career in marketing is evidently well-paid, and likely to continue to be so, how secure is it? There are contradictory findings here. A significant proportion (38 per cent) of marketers say there has been no restructuring in their department over the past year, but this falls to 22 per cent when looking back five years, which implies that about 78 per cent have experienced restructuring in the past five years. The job has been changing, however – 22 per cent report the implementation of category management in the past year.

Job losses have impacted on the respondent’s companies, with 48 per cent saying redundancies have been experienced. Yet although just over one in five say staff numbers in the marketing department have been reduced, 45 per cent report increased numbers. Job losses appear to have been relatively modest, with 49 per cent of those saying their departments were trimmed by one or two staff.

This means marketing remains a pretty good option for a long-term career. Only two per cent of respondents have been unfortunate enough to have experienced unemployment. The axe is most likely to have fallen on marketing managers and on those aged between 27 and 35.

Time off is still more likely to come through holidays, which marketers appear to be able to take, even though many industries have been cutting back. Nearly two-thirds claim five weeks holiday, with one quarter taking four weeks.

One in ten even get six weeks off a year.

Life for bosses continues to be good, but with fewer fat cats than might be expected. Although one in five earn more than 100,000 a year, the mean salary for managing directors, chairmen and chief executives is 76,924. One in five are grouped around that salary band, with just one in ten earning less than 35,000.

Increases averaged 5.6 per cent, below the average rise for most marketers. There is evidence of self-restraint here, since 46 per cent took less than 5.9 per cent rises and 15 per cent had no increase. Three out of ten did boost their salaries by between six and 10.9 per cent, while a handful saw their incomes rise by between one-fifth and one-quarter. The handful on the highest salaries already also got the biggest percentage increases.

Life as a marketing director is clearly not a bad option, either, since pay rises averaged 7.3 per cent, or two-and-a-half times the rate of inflation. Only nine per cent got no rise at all, but an unfortunate three per cent had their pay cut by as much as ten per cent. With three quarters of marketing directors on performance-related bonuses, this could be a result of a bad year for their company.

The average salary for a marketing director is now 55,100, although 11 per cent are earning more than 75,000. The salary spread is not huge, however, given that the job of marketing director might be held by people with age differences of 20 years or more – two-thirds of this group earn between 40,000 and 70,000.

There is discrimination against women apparent again at this level as well. Just 23 per cent of marketing directors are female, of whom 23 per cent earn less than 40,000. Only one in 20 female marketing directors are among the highest-paid on more than 70,000. As an average, men earn 56,880 while women earn 49,166.

Reaping the benefits

It has been said the future is female, but this has not yet impacted on the higher echelons of marketing. One reason for this could be that just one per cent of marketing directors said their company offered crèche facilities. (One interesting finding did emerge with regard to benefits, however. Of the highest paid marketing directors, one per cent are getting private education for their children paid for. These lucky few were as likely to be women as men.)

For those marketing directors whose salaries had risen, changing jobs tended to produce the biggest increases. Half of those who reported a rise of more than 26 per cent had gone to a new job. The majority (58 per cent) of marketing directors got pay rises of up to six per cent from pay reviews. Some of these reviews were very generous, with 15 per cent getting over 11 per cent more as a result.

In fact, developing a career within a company can still clearly pay – of those who were promoted internally (one in five of all marketing directors in the sample), one in four upped their salary by between six and 11 per cent and another one in four got between 11 and 16 per cent as a result. Fifteen per cent of those who had been promoted got a rise of more than 21 per cent.

Cars are almost universal as a benefit, closely followed by a health plan. Just over three-quarters of marketing directors are on a performance-related bonus, but only 34 per cent get share options and 31 per cent get a profit share. A fortunate six per cent have held onto a guaranteed bonus. Overall, the importance of cars, free petrol and travel benefits shows that marketing directors are still very much hands-on and are not working from home.

In the trenches of marketing, the rewards are more evenly distributed between different job titles. It is not clear whether the ambitious (or avaricious) should concentrate on a career in classic brand management or in horizontal functions. Marketing managers earned more on average, at 31,639, than group product managers, who averaged 28,802.

The newly-created position of category manager attracted a higher salary, at 36,719 on average, but there were relatively few marketers in the survey with this job title. Specific functions pulled in good average salaries of 31,024 for advertising or public relations managers, 34,910 for sales managers and 27,945 for research managers, compared with 24,107 for a product manager.

The real differences are to be found between the top-paying companies and the average. For marketing managers in the top ten per cent of earners, for example, the average salary is 52,234 – two-thirds higher than the norm – while advertising/PR managers in the top-paying companies pulled in a whopping 60,312 – nearly double the average.

Product management is also significantly better paid in these top-paying companies, with group product managers raking in an average 46,785 and senior product managers 44,500, between half and two-thirds more than the norm.

Some marked pay differentials also exist between sectors. A marketing manager for a toiletries or grocery firm might average 41,428, while in a leisure company the average salary is just 29,300. A senior product manager for a hi-tech operation might average 38,687, more than 50 per cent more than the 25,214 paid for the same job in the services sector.

As has already been noted, women earn less on average than men in the same jobs. But the discrimination is not limited soley to salaries – benefits are also skewed in favour of men. Across the whole sample, far fewer women than men got a car, at 45 per cent compared with 69 per cent. When they did, the value was likely to be lower – while female marketers drive a car worth 17,408, their male counterparts enjoy at least one class higher, at 19,705.

Despite the fact that more women than men in the sample are working as marketing managers, there was an even greater difference in car benefits in this category – 76 per cent of men get one compared with just 53 per cent of women. Performance-related bonuses are given to 58 per cent of men, but just 41 per cent of women, and when relocating, 23 per cent of men are paid their expenses, but only 11 per cent of women.

Things are better for senior female product managers, who even manage to get a car more often than their male colleagues (78 per cent to 64 per cent). But significant financial benefits are still withheld more often. Three-quarters of men get a health plan, compared with two-thirds of women, while 42 per cent of men are on a share option scheme, compared with 29 per cent of women.

How is the marketing industry to retain its high-flying women if it continues to deny them the same rewards that men gain? While some of the differences revealed in the survey may just be quirks in the sample – more younger women responding, or more in less well-paid industries – men consistently get a better deal. No wonder 57 per cent of women say they are likely to change jobs, compared with 50 per cent of men.

Growing trends

One striking finding relates to qualifications. Men and women generally had the same level of education up to degree level. But 31 per cent of women had a postgraduate diploma, compared with 21 per cent of men. Conversely, six per cent of men held an MBA, which only three per cent of women had, and eight per cent of men had another higher degree, compared with five per cent of women.

Only half of the sample had basic foreign language skills, of which one-third were in French, 15 per cent in German and nine per cent in Spanish. Only 24 per cent said they could carry out a conversation in another language, and just 13 per cent claimed to be fluent. Despite this, 58 per cent said they would relocate to Europe. This raises the question of how they would do their job once they got there.

Given these qualifications, how do marketers rate their profession and their companies? On a scale of four meaning very good and one meaning poor, respondents gave the quality of management they experienced 2.7, just above average. Only one in ten said it was very good. This might reflect on the quality of training they receive, which was also rated 2.7.

Creative thinking did not emerge any better, rating 2.7 as well, with only 15 per cent saying it was very good. There was much more confidence in the professionalism of their companies, which was ranked at three. Nearly one quarter said their company was very professional and 54 per cent said it was “quite good”.

All of which suggests that marketers are not too daunted by the prospects for the year ahead. Pay rises are likely to continue at well above inflation, even if slightly down on last year’s bumper haul. Women have the most ground to make up and may face considerable barriers to reaching parity with men. Even so, growth prospects were rated a three (four being very good) by respondents, implying a bright future.


The annual Salary Survey, of which this is the 15th, is acknowledged as the authoritative and unique guide to pay and conditions in the marketing industry. As well as offering a benchmark to marketers for their own earning power, it is a valuable tool for recruiting and retaining marketing managers.

The survey was commissioned by Marketing Week and marketing recruitment specialist Michael Page Sales & Marketing. Research was carried out by Compass Data Services. A self-completion questionnaire was mailed out during October 1997 to 11,000 MW readers, and was supplemented by 200 telephone interviews.

A cut-off date for responses was set at December 12 1997. The final response rate was 17 per cent, yielding 1,826 responses. This sample was nearly evenly split between 51 per cent men and 49 per cent women and is slightly higher than the 1,534 responses received last year.

Two per cent of respondents held the most senior positions of managing director, chairman or chief executive, while nine per cent were marketing directors. Marketing managers made up the main job function covered, at 42 per cent (including trade/retail and direct marketing managers). Just one per cent had the job title of category manager.

Nine per cent were employed as either group or senior product managers, while 11 per cent were product or brand managers. Assistants made up eight per cent of the sample, with 18 per cent employed as advertising/PR managers, sales managers, sales promotion managers or research managers.

Just over half (53 per cent) are aged 27 to 35, with 16 per cent aged 36 to 40, 11 per cent 41 to 50 and four per cent over 50. The under-26 age range makes up 15 per cent of the sample.

For those requiring a rapid overview of the survey, compact versions are available as a brochure at 20. Specially tailored analyses are also available on request. See the order form opposite.

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