Almost nine in 10 marketers now delaying campaigns in response to Covid-19

Marketers are putting spending on ice as 69% see demand for their brands’ products and services plummet amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Campaign delaysThe vast majority of marketers (86%) are now delaying or reviewing marketing campaigns, up from 55% just three weeks ago, as the industry reels from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Of the 849 UK brand marketers answering the second round of an exclusive survey conducted by Marketing Week and its sister title Econsultancy, 49% say they are delaying campaigns, with 38% reviewing them. Just 14% say campaigns are going ahead as planned.

Campaign launches are not the only aspect of a marketer’s role increasingly being affected. Some 90% of marketers say their budget commitments have been delayed or are under review, up from 60% three weeks ago. Plus, 85% of marketers say they have paused new hires, compared to 41% three weeks prior.

Almost double the number of marketers (81%) say tech or infrastructure spending has been suspended due to the spread of the virus, compared to three weeks ago (43%).

The drastic decline in campaign activity and reduction in recruitment is being driven by the fact that 69% of marketers have experienced a drop in demand for their brand’s products and services. Three weeks ago when, Marketing Week and Econsultancy conducted their first industry survey, this figure was just 39%.

The current climate of uncertainty driven by the nationwide lockdown has caused 62% of marketers to change their marketing strategy, for example by introducing new discounting, messaging and partnerships. This number is up from just 18% three weeks ago.

Likewise, 46% of marketers have updated customer policies, such as cancellation terms or waiving fees, up from 17% back in March.

The number of marketers whose companies have changed employee policies over the past three weeks has almost doubled from 44% to 86%. This includes shifting to remote working, travel bans and discussions around bonuses.

Majority of marketers delaying campaigns as coronavirus fears escalate

Almost three-quarters of marketers (72%) have seen new requirements implemented for remote working, up from 57% three weeks ago, although 53% say productivity has been affected by the travel restrictions and new processes (versus 45% three weeks prior).

Some 70% of marketers say the new way of working has impacted on employee morale, while 36% are experiencing supply chain issues as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Drop in demand hits smaller companies

The data suggests that smaller companies (with revenues under £50m) are seeing a greater reduction in demand caused by the outbreak.

The majority of marketers (77%) working in smaller businesses have seen demand for their brand’s products and services decline, compared to 64% of their counterparts working for businesses with revenues of £50m and above.

However, marketers in smaller businesses (32%) are being less affected by supply chain issues than marketers working in larger organisations (44%).

Some 91% of marketers working in companies with revenues of less than £50m have put their budgets under review, while 85% have paused marketing campaigns and 88% have stalled on new hires.

Marketers fear remote working will ‘compromise’ their brands during coronavirus crisis

A similar picture is true for marketers working in larger businesses. Of those surveyed, 87% have delayed or reviewed their budgets, 87% have delayed marketing campaigns and 80% have paused recruitment.

There do, however, appear to be bigger differences when it comes to internal strategies and the implementation of new policies.

Almost two-thirds of marketers (60%) in smaller businesses have changed their marketing strategies in response to the coronavirus, compared to 67% in larger organisations. While 80% of marketers in smaller companies have updated their employee policies, 94% of marketers in larger organisations report taking the same action.

Likewise, whereas 42% of marketers in smaller businesses have changed their customer policies, just more than half (56%) of marketers in bigger companies have done the same thing.

In the next episode of The Lowdown on 7 April, Econsultancy editor Ben Davis and senior vice-president of research Stefan Tornquist will discuss how marketers are responding to the challenges of Covid-19. Click here to register for free to listen to the webinar.