Marketers show resilience in the face of the squeeze

  • Click here to see a case study on gender issues
  • Click here to view Craig Inglis director of marketing at John Lewis’ viewpoint
  • Click here to explore a focus on the health sector
  • See all tables in ‘Related Files’ on the right


If that expensive belt you bought as a treat four years ago has started to hang a little loose, it is for a reason. Pay rates have actually slid backwards. Across almost all the main marketing roles, average salaries are back to levels last seen in 2007, meaning leaner times for those who have chosen career paths in this department.

While marketing managers and marketing directors are still earning two to three times the average household income, the high disposable income that once came as standard in this function appears to have gone. Add in the effect of inflation and many marketers who have stayed in the same job for the past two years are earning less now in real terms than they did when they started.

Belt-tightening looks to have become second nature as companies strive to save costs from every part of the business. Marketing directors report average salaries of £75,300, down from £78,500 last year and below the 2009 average of £77,800. The step-change in income seen at the height of the economic boom looks to have been reversed, perhaps for some years to come.

Marketing managers are looking at an even more remarkable flattening of their incomes. For 2011, the average salary in this role is £41,300, down from £42,000 last year. Notably, this is just 8% higher than the average salary reported in 2001. A decade which went from bust to boom and back again has left marketers with less in their pockets now than at the start of the Noughties.

One factor keeping incomes down is a lack of recruitment activity. Employers have noted the gloomy economy and chosen to keep salaries in check, so marketers who do move jobs are no longer able to do so for a major salary bump.

Not all marketers have undergone a reversal of fortunes, however. For the top 10% of earners, life is still good – in fact, twice as good as the average, especially among middle managers. Top marketing managers earn nearly twice the average at £81,100 (compared with £41,300), while brand and product managers do even better (£91,700 compared with an average of £40,500). Marketing services managers are on more than twice the norm (£80,000 compared with £36,800).

Digital marketers have defied the normal earning pattern – the top 10% of online marketing managers can command nearly three times the average salary. That £111,700 income would look attractive to many marketing directors and sets an almost impossibly high bar for non-digital natives to try to jump over.


It also seems unlikely that many female marketers are earning at that level, since the gender pay gap in marketing remains as prevalent as ever. Among marketing directors, the penalty for being female is £15,100, while for marketing managers it is £7,600 and for brand and product managers it is £5,900.

The brave new world of online marketing exhibits a very old world trait of paying female marketing managers £7,700 less; however, more junior female online marketing executives are a rare example of higher earners than their male counterparts. The gender divide starts early: even among the entry-level role of graduate trainees there is a £1,400 penalty for being female (see Salaries by gender, in ‘Related Files’ to the right).

More needs to be done to close the pay gap between men and women, argues Aviva global marketing director Amanda Mackenzie. But she adds that women are less likely to ask for a pay rise and this could be one of the reasons why women are losing out. She says: “Women generally believe they will be recognised for what they do. They work hard and are conscientious and believe that will be picked up.”

One option for marketers looking to advance their careers and incomes used to be to metaphorically cross the Atlantic. In recent years, the premium for working at a US-owned company has largely eroded, but there are signs it may be returning. Across all marketing roles (bar one), the average salary at American brand owners is higher than elsewhere. This dividend is stronger in specialist roles, such as online marketing managers, who can earn £4,600 more by choosing their brand’s parentage carefully.

Global brand or marketing positions almost certainly represent the pinnacle for marketers in terms of earning opportunities, as well as prestige. The stronger the brand, the more likely it is that earnings will also be more robust.

This can be seen in the different salary averages by industry sector. For example, alcohol, cars, FMCG and healthcare have significantly higher averages. At the peak, marketing directors working on alcohol brands earn £105,000 on average, compared with the lowest average of £45,300 in education, where brands barely exist. Even at entry level, graduate trainees working on an alcohol brand earn £27,000 on average, compared with £18,000 if they start their careers at a white or brown goods manufacturer.

Pay rises have not altogether disappeared in marketing. On average, marketing directors got an extra 2.99%, while marketing managers saw a 2.46% rise – both below the annual rate of inflation for 2010 of 3.3% (or 4.7% if using retail prices as an index). Marketing services, digital and direct marketers did better and will at least have protected their base income.

But there could be more positive news on the horizon: marketers look likely to put the pressure on to get a pay rise. It is notable that all marketing roles (except market research) are expecting a bigger pay increase in 2011 than they received in 2010. That represents a demand for an end to the neo-austerity that has typified life in marketing in recent years.

How those increases will be achieved, given the likelihood that employers will not want to push up staffing budgets, seems likely through just one mechanism – changing jobs. There is a very strong latent demand to move on, with between a third and half of marketers saying they plan to leave their current job in 2011. Nearly one-third expect to have changed jobs within two to three years. (See Intention to change jobs, in ‘Related Files’ to the right)


That could see the unleashing of a pent-up desire for career improvement that has had little outlet recently. Craig Inglis, who was promoted in February last year to the newly created role of director of marketing at John Lewis, says moving to retail has enabled him to implement an “engaging” strategy that “brings to life” the Never Knowingly Undersold proposition that demonstrates John Lewis’s commitment to price, quality and service (see Viewpoint, in ‘Related Files’ to the right).

If the economy holds steady in the first half of the year, then the second half could see a flurry of promotions just like Inglis’s step up to director level from head of brand communications.

Unless brand owners find deeper pockets to retain their staff, it seems likely that in 12 months’ time the majority of marketers will have striven to get a new job title – and perhaps a shiny new, better-fitting belt.

Key stats

Average salaries for marketing directors – £75,300

Salaries for marketing directors have hit a five-year low with an average of £75,300, far below the £82,300 reported in 2007. Marketing managers have seen a similar falling away of average incomes to £41,300 in 2011 compared with £42,900 in 2007.

Entry level salaries – £21,700

Graduate trainees and marketing assistants have seen their starting pay flatten out to £21,700 on average. Although this is up from £20,600 last year, entry-level pay rates are below those seen at the height of the economic boom in 2007, when GTMAs were earning £23,300.

The top 10% – £95,200

Pay differentials for the top 10% of marketers have not been eroded, commanding £95,200 – nearly £20,000 higher than the average. Top-paid marketing managers earn almost twice the average rate at £81,100.

The gender pay gap – £15,100

Women still suffer from lower pay than men. For marketing directors, the gender penalty is £15,100, while for marketing managers it is £7,600 and for brand/product managers it is £5,900. Even female GTMAs earn £1,400 less than their male colleagues on average.

Online marketers – £111,700

Online marketing managers in the top 10% have the most extreme pay difference from the average, earning £111,700 compared with a mean of £41,800. This is higher than the average pay for even top-paid marketing directors.

American ownership – £24,600

A premium is still attached to working for US-owned organisations. This is highest for communications directors, where the difference is £24,600. Only market research managers earn more in non-US owned businesses.

Salaries for those working for the big brands – £105,000

Big brands pay bigger salaries. Alcoholic drinks companies offer the highest average salary for marketing directors, at £105,000, followed by cars (£97,500) and FMCG (£91,900). The best paid sector for marketing managers is healthcare with an average salary of £52,000.

Biggest reported pay rise during 2010 – 4.95%

Pay rises in 2010 ranged from 2.46% (for marketing managers) to 4.95% (for online marketing managers), leaving some marketers suffering effective pay cuts due to the effect of inflation. Expectations for pay rises in 2011 are 2.52% to 4.74%.

Salaries for those working for the biggest spenders – £103,700

Marketing budget is mostly correlated with average salary. An exception is for marketing directors, where mid-sized budgets of £10.1m to £25m pay an average salary of £103,700, higher than the £100,000 earned at companies with a £1bn-plus marketing budget.

Number expected to leave their jobs – 35-50%

2011 could see a return of job mobility in marketing with 35-50% of marketers expecting to find a new position during the year. Staff who are most likely to move on are the more junior staff, such as online marketing executives (50%) and marketing services executives (48%).

(See ‘Salary averages by gender’ table in ‘Related Files’ to the right)


Taking a lead on gender issues

Marketing is women’s work. Clear evidence of this can be found by simply looking at who filled out this year’s Salary Survey – two-thirds of respondents were female.

Just look around your own marketing department and you will likely see that its genetic make-up is more XX than XY.

The predominance of women can be seen in just about every marketing role, until you reach marketing director level. At this point, men edge ahead with 52% reaching director level compared with 48% of females. Direct mail and customer relationship managers have a more masculine profile, but everywhere else, there are two women to every man.

However, the importance of women in marketing does not translate into equality. When it comes to salaries, women are paid less on average than their male counterparts, with only a handful of jobs exhibiting a different pattern.

Across the board, women earn less – female marketing directors earn £7,800 below the overall average and £15,100 less than the average pay for men in the same post. Among marketing managers, women are earning £2,500 below average and £7,600 less than the average for men.

The usual justification for such a pay gap is that women are more likely to have taken a career break to have children, which may hold back their salary. However, this survey shows that women are being paid less than men at the start of their career, with female graduates earning, on average, £1,400 less than their male counterparts.

This could be down to women being less pushy than men when it comes to demanding more money, believes Amanda Mackenzie, global marketing director at Aviva. She says: “Women are less likely to ask for a higher salary because they assume they will be given it eventually. With men, they are more upfront. They have self-belief and are inherently more confident. So pay differences start at the beginning.”

A telling finding Mackenzie reports is that 67% of American male graduates negotiate on their first salary, whereas only 7% of female graduates do.

While Mackenzie notes: “I have no issue with my own pay and conditions,” she is taking a lead on gender issues at the insurance and investments group. Joining in 2008 as the company’s first female member of the executive committee, she has spearheaded a drive to put the gender debate at the top of Aviva’s human resources agenda and is also chair of its Women’s Network.

“It has always been a challenge to get more senior women, not just in marketing, but at all levels of the company,” she says. Her own view is that as a senior executive, helping shift gender imbalances is part of “giving something back”.

(See ‘Intention to change jobs’ table in ‘Related Files’ to the right)


How one marketer moved sectors for ultimate job satisfaction.


Craig Inglis, who was promoted in February 2010 to the newly-created post of director of marketing at John Lewis.

I’m a marketer who has loved working in retail over the past three years, but before that I had no previous experience in the sector. I’ve always believed that if you’ve got the right skills, commitment and outlook, you can work in any sector as a marketer.

Last year has been a pretty remarkable one for John Lewis. Our sales performance has been ahead of the market all year and, from a marketing point of view, we have overhauled our strategy and our activity has delivered from both a commercial and a brand perspective.

The highlight of the year, though, was without doubt the incredible public reaction to our Never Knowingly Undersold campaign back in May.

I guess, as a result, our biggest challenge for 2011 will be matching 2010. More specifically, I expect the economy to continue to be challenging this year and so our customers will continue to demand outstanding value.

For us that means we need to keep developing our Never Knowingly Undersold proposition so that we remain differentiated on price, quality and service, and ensure that we deliver a marketing strategy that brings this to life in the most engaging way possible.

Our unique structure means that I can have absolute assurance that our partners will deliver outstanding service to our customers again and again. This is an incredibly powerful tool for a marketer and I feel very privileged to be part of it. We have a highly collaborative, partner-focused culture, but it is also increasingly fast-paced and dynamic.

(See ‘Salary averages by sector’ table in ‘Related Files’ to the right)


The healthiest of sectors

If you are a marketing manager looking for a healthy salary, then look no further than the healthcare sector. Marketers who choose this career path stand to make an average of £52,000. That’s £4,200 more than a marketing manager working for a hi-tech brand and a huge £16,400 more than the average income for those toiling in the publishing industry.

One reason why healthcare commands such a premium might be the dynamism of the sector. As Camillo Pane, Reckitt Benckiser’s UK general manager told Marketing Week last November: “Speed is our crucial differentiator.” Getting brands to market quickly has helped the company expand, leading to its acquisition of SSL, the maker of Durex and Scholl.

While marketers might be attracted to more glamorous industries, such as alcohol and automobiles, there is actually a lot of innovation within the healthcare industry, argues Mathew Hart, who until last June was marketing director at Nuffield Health.

Hart was drawn to working for Nuffield because of its “innovative approach”, he says.
His own path into the business was unusual, having been group marketing director at before holding a joint marketing and commercial role at Cannons Health and Fitness. When that chain of gyms was acquired by the private hospital and healthcare charity he found himself at the centre of a transforming business.


“Nuffield took the decision to try to put the customer at its heart – that was one of the reasons behind the Cannons Health acquisition – to get further up the food chain,” Hart recalls. Preventative health is easier to market to gym members than patients referred by a GP. “The company decided to get behind the customer and marketing – it hadn’t had a board position for marketing before,” says Hart.

As well as a career opportunity, this evolution opened up new challenges with a strong commercial focus. “I have worked in a few companies where marketing is not viewed as a true business function. But I believe it is at the heart of the business and as a marketer you have to be able to show the return on investment – what the business is going to get back – not just look to pick up awards,” he says.

Healthcare professionals are often thought of as having a vocation, rather than a commercial career. But as Hart’s experience at Nuffield – and the significant salaries on offer for marketers – show, this is a sector that is changing fast.

(See ‘Salary increases’ table in ‘Related Files’ to the right)



The Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Salary Survey has been acknowledged for 29 years as an authoritative guide to pay and benefit conditions and expectations in the marketing industry. As well as acting as a benchmark to marketers of their earning power, it is a valuable tool for employers wishing to recruit and retain marketing professionals.

An online, self-completion survey was run by Marketing Week in November 2010 and analysed by Fusion. A total of 2,545 surveys were completed and used to produce the figures in this study.

These included marketing managers, who made up 34% of the sample, marketing services executives, at 14%, and marketing directors, at 8%. Marketing services managers accounted for 7% of responses, brand/product managers 6%, graduate trainees/marketing assistants 5%, communications managers 5%, online marketing managers 4% and online marketing executives, market research directors and market research managers 3% each.

Some 34% of responses came from men and 66% from women. The age profile was 12% under 26, 31% aged 26-30, 24% aged 31-35, 16% aged 36-40, 9% aged 41-45, 5% aged 46-50 and 3% over 51.

(See ‘Salary Trends 2001-2011’ table in ‘Related Files’ to the right)


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