Marketing budgets, customer queries and male representation: 5 interesting stats to start your week

We arm you with all the numbers you need to tackle the week ahead.

Two-thirds of marketers experiencing budget cuts

A survey of 500 marketers across the UK reveals almost two in three (65%) have had their budgets cut in recent months, in line with rising business costs. Additionally, 70% say reduced budgets have made it harder to produce impactful campaigns that reach their target audience.

A similar number (69%) feel their job has become more challenging in recent months overall, due to tightening budgets and bigger expectations.

As well as constricting budgets, marketers are also contending with increased brand switching. Almost seven in 10 marketers surveyed believe consumers are switching brands more, while 71% say customer loyalty is more challenging than ever.

The research also surveyed 1,000 consumers and found almost one in five (17%) have switched supermarkets to save on rising food prices. Some 40% have had to scale back spending, due to less disposable income.

Many consumers expect support from brands, with close to half (43%) agreeing that brands should be absorbing rising costs to support their customers.

The survey of marketers suggests brands are indeed thinking about how they can help out their customers during the cost of living crisis. Almost two-thirds (64%) say the brands they work on have put a bigger focus on supporting customers this year.

Source: Ello Group

One in five Brits have cut spend on essential food items

Inflation and rising energy bills are beginning to cut into consumers’ essential spending, finds research from YouGov.

One in five Britons (21%) say they have found themselves forced to make cut backs to their essential food item spending since last November. This figure, which comes from over 2,000 British consumers surveyed in September, has risen from 17% in July.

The figure is higher among the lowest-income households earning less than £20,000 a year, as 28% say they have been forced to reduce spending on household essentials and 29% have had to make cuts to their staple food budget. However, even among the households with the highest incomes -£60,000 or more – over one in 10 (11%) say they have had to cut down on their staple food budget.

In discretionary spending, eating out is the most common category where consumers are cutting down, with 32% of British people saying they’re cutting spend in this area compared to 30% in July. Luxury items (31%) and clothes (29%) are the next biggest areas of reduced spend.

Clothes and digital TV subscriptions have seen the biggest increases in people cutting spend since July. Some 7% more people say they are cutting spend in both areas, with digital TV subscriptions increasing to 17% from 10% in July.

Many consumers have found themselves forced to switch to cheaper alternatives. This is most likely the case when it comes to staple food items, with 16% of the public claiming to have traded down. A similar number say they’ve had to downgrade their toiletries and household essentials (15% in both cases), while 13% have moved to cheaper alternatives with their non-essential food spending.

Source: YouGov

Half of Brits want to see men better represented in advertising

Over half of British people (56%) want to see more positive stories about men being completely themselves in advertising, according to VCCP’s ‘Gender Agenda: Masculinity’ report.

Of the 500 people surveyed, 49% also want to see a greater range of male emotion within advertising. This desire for better masculine representation is particularly relevant for brands as 65% of young men say that gender representation in advertising plays a role in their purchase decision.

Young men are also more likely than the average consumer to feel gender representation in media is personally relevant to them. Almost half (47%) of young men think this, versus just one third of the general population. Among younger consumers overall, 53% would like to see humour used more to challenge ideas around “maleness”.

Clothing is the category where men are most likely to take male representation into account when making their purchase, with 63% saying this plays some factor. This is closely followed by 62% of all men who say representation plays a role in their purchase decision around health, beauty and grooming.

Source: VCCP London

Marketers embrace hybrid working to encourage creativity

Almost seven in 10 UK marketers (68%) are embracing a hybrid approach to work to support their teams in the creation of new ideas.

This is according to research from digital experience platform provider Optimizely, which surveyed in-house marketing professionals, including 200 in the UK. The vast majority of respondents (85%) agree that, as long as communication is effective, creative ideation can happen anywhere.

The marketers surveyed listed their biggest barriers to creativity over the last two years. A lack of urgency emerged as the biggest barrier, with 32% of marketers saying they struggle with this. Limited or lack of access to good collaboration tools (31%) and engaging remote employees during virtual meetings (31%) also ranked high on the list. Leadership teams putting pressure on outcomes and results (29%), and motivating employees to develop creative ideas (28%) round off the top five barriers to driving creativity in a marketing team.

Marketers find inspiration both online and offline, the survey reports. The most common source of creative inspiration is through interpersonal connection with peers or colleagues (43%). Over four in ten (41%) find inspiration on social media such as TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, and 40% through internet research. More than one third (37%) also find inspiration from attending events, either in-person or virtual.

Source: Optimizely

Two in five customer queries to leading UK retailers go unanswered

Over two in five customer queries to leading UK retailers (42%) are being ignored or left unanswered, according to a report from customer engagement platform Only 13% are being answered in a full and timely way.

The UK retailers leading the way when it comes to the number of customer communication channels available to shoppers are Next, B&Q, and Marks & Spencer. These brands offer eight or more customer service channels, with questions being answered more efficiently and thoroughly than brands with less channels available.

The top 10 retail brands for customer service also have a higher annual turnover than others, the report finds. The top brands have a turnover more than £7.2bn higher than the average turnover of those brands ranked in the bottom 10.

The report also finds differences between the various sub-categories within retail. Overall, ecommerce brands lead the way for responsiveness to customer queries, in addition to boasting the second most customer service channels (averaging 6.5) compared to grocery (6.1), and home and electronics brands (6.1). Apparel brands average the most customer service channels at 7.3.

Home and electronics retailers are those with the most work to do on customer service, with enquiries left unanswered longer and communication lines open less time than other retailers.

Only 8% of the retailers audited offer customer service support through a human agent 24 hours a day.