O Brave new world. . .

This millennium edition of the Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Salary Survey takes stock of key themes affecting the profession over the past ten years and asks whether they will remain issues in the new century.

The Millennium Salary Survey, commissioned by Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan reflects the success of the Government’s economic strategy. The last year has not been a boom one for marketers, but neither has it all gone bust.

Average salary increases are ahead of expectation, though down on 1998, and there are indications that marketers are more impatient than this time last year to advance their salary and career objectives in 2000.

In last year’s Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Salary Survey, the marketing community got it right. The clouds of economic uncertainty, posed by the financial crisis in the Far East and fears of a worldwide recession, melted away with reductions in interest rates. There was a slight tremor in the economy in the winter, but it proved not to be seismic, and for most marketers 1999 was a year of opportunity.

The stock market prospered, the pound was strong, employment figures were buoyant, the housing market heated up without overheating, and the Internet revolution arrived in a big way. The only downside was on the retail high street, where some retailers have struggled to offer relevant value against discounters, more relevant propositions and alternative shopping channels. The depression in this sector is in stark contrast to the positive optimism of marketers generally.

Against this background it is not surprising that the Millennium Salary Survey reveals marketers expecting salary rises above inflation, planning to move jobs, and seeking challenge and remuneration rather than worrying about job security.

The arrival of 2000 was widely supposed to herald dramatic change in jobs and lifestyles as people made resolutions like no other new year. But a resounding 90 per cent of the survey respondents claimed the millennium would make no difference to their career decisions.

That said, marketers remain highly mobile, and despite protestations that the millennium will have no effect, almost 60 per cent of the survey intend to change jobs by the end of 2000. Given that within the same time period more than 50 per cent of the sample do not believe their current company can offer sufficient remuneration to persuade them to stay, a significant number are planning to move both jobs and companies in 2000. The millennium should therefore prove a time of major recruitment activity, particularly in the first half.

The survey shows, as it did in 1999, that the key factors when moving company are likely to be new challenges, financial inducement and broadening experience. However, it is noticeable that the junior end of the market places a higher premium on financial reward, while senior marketers appear to make a trade off versus remuneration in rating new challenges more highly.

Understanding the marketer

In last year’s survey, the main issue communicated by respondents was not impending recession but the continuing challenge of acquiring and retaining quality marketers. This meant understanding marketers’ motivations, and this remains just as true for 2000.

Challenge, broadening skills and stimulation are clearly critical motivators, but so too are remuneration and overall packages. While men and women value the basic salary as more important than any individual benefit, attitudes towards benefits do diverge over cars, sports clubs and crèche facilities, although there are no surprises as to what gender values which more.

Unfortunately, for the men in particular, there is evidence that cars as a benefit are being taken away, with companies shifting to car allowances. This reflects the Government’s desire to tax the company motorist off the road.

The past ten years – key themes

The Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Salary Survey has always yielded much more than just essential information on UK marketers’ salaries. In addressing underlying motivations and aspirations, it gives an insight into the profession beyond its collective wallet. It is appropriate at the beginning of a new century to reflect on key themes of the past ten years of the 20th century that have emerged from the surveys. We can then evaluate these themes’ current saliency and their sustainability and relevance in the next ten years.

Ten years ago the following issues were raised in Marketing Week (January 12 1990):

  • When will the bubble burst for marketing?
  • Do marketers get what they deserve?
  • It pays to be a man in marketing
  • It is not just the money
  • The market is Europe now
  • Ten years on, each of these statements deserves commentary, but the issues have moved on and the future is likely to see some of these issues eclipsed by others.

    When will the bubble burst?

    Marketers by nature have to be optimists, and fears that the good times may end do not trouble them. In 1990 the marketing community was facing a major recession which was already having a big impact on all sectors, but marketers were upbeat – at least in terms of annual salary increases received (the average was 10.2 per cent) and expectations of future increases (predicted at 9.8 per cent).

    But the bubble burst as the article was being written. Companies cut back on the key areas of graduate recruitment and, more importantly, brands investment, particularly new product development followed by advertising retrenchment. This was to have a profound effect on a generation of marketers, and while senior marketers could feel confident, already job cuts were affecting the junior levels.

    Such is the benefit of hindsight, but even as this article is being written, the complacent bubble of prosperity which marketers have enjoyed for the past five years could be about to be punctured, not this time by the ravages of economic strife, given the “steady as she goes” economic management of the Government, but by the pace of change of technology. Some pundits predict that the pace of change in the next five years is likely to be greater than in the past 50, and for marketers who need to be at the forefront of change, this represents a huge opportunity which, if not seized, will leave them for dead.

    Do marketers get what they deserve?

    This question is ambiguous in its proposition and the suspicion is that they do. Marketers don’t just want financial reward. Job challenge and stimulation are just as important and this has been a constant theme in all the salary surveys in the Nineties. If marketers were motivated only by making money, they could have gone into the City. As a result, a comparison with salary bands of ten years ago demonstrates that in real terms salary levels have increased in value, but not excessively. Nor has there been a huge change in the number of marketers who offset their basic salary by performance-related bonuses – it was roughly 50 per cent ten years ago and it remains true today.

    Yet if marketers really do add value to the business, shouldn’t they be rewarded for their contribution by performance-related bonuses instead of staged increases? It also raises questions about marketers’ entrepreneurial nature, in that they place a higher importance on a high basic salary and a company pension plan as part of their benefits package than performance-related bonuses.

    The next few years may see a radical shake-up in traditional remuneration packages as the opportunities for marketers in the start-up world of Internet brands, products, services, new distribution and communication channels introduce share options and flotation opportunities.

    But again the conflicting and conservative nature of marketers is illustrated by the fact that when asked which were the most attractive sectors for developing their careers, the Internet did not feature particularly. Consultancy scored highest, followed closely by the travel, leisure and sports sectors, which again is not where the real money is.

    It pays to be a man in marketing

    The differences between males and females in marketing has been a hot topic of discussion for most of the past decade.

    Our current survey supports this, as does every survey in the past decade, but there appears no logic to it. It may be true that there are fewer women in senior positions than men, and it may be true that at junior level the differences are less pronounced, even equalised, but our surveys do not explain the phenomenon. As a debate it is hard to believe that as we enter the 21st century there are any who believe women should be adversely penalised – so why do the surveys reveal differences in average pay at most levels? We can only assume it is a quirk of the sample profiles.

    The male/female remuneration debate is likely to be eclipsed by the move to flexible working. In the millennium survey, more than 40 per cent of companies had some form of flexible working, the most common being working from home and flexitime, but both hot-desking and part-time working featured strongly. These are real trends to watch.

    It’s not just the money

    This point has been explored in previous sections of this article, and is reinforced in this year’s survey by more than a quarter of those surveyed expressing a desire to find a more socially fulfilling role in the next 12 months.

    This is very much a late Nineties theme, and echoes New Labour’s drive to make businesses socially responsible and contribute to community life. This is also evident in the fact that almost half of the survey work in companies with flexible working practices, recognising both the benefits of technology and the need to introduce quality of life by being flexible about personal agendas. Home working, flexitime, hot-desking, career breaks and part-time working are all established practices in marketing departments in the late Nineties and can be expected to continue.

    The market is Europe now

    Marketers have wrestled with the implications of Europe for the past ten years. The UK is a launchpad for US companies seeking to roll out brands across Europe and the synergies of international marketing have increasingly been adopted by UK companies, albeit more slowly.

    As a result, marketing departments have been regularly restructured and the role of marketing, particularly in packaged goods, has been re-evaluated. Constant change and ever-increasing speed of change have been regular themes for the latter half of the Nineties and there is no indication that this is likely to cease in the early years of the next century. For example, 68 per cent of this year’s survey have seen their department restructured in some form or another in 1999, and more than half expect this to continue in 2000.

    The global/local theme has had a major impact on the way companies view the role of marketing in packaged goods, and this has led to both a reaffirmation of the importance of marketing but also some redefinition. In part this explains the growing attractiveness of consultancy as it is increasingly seen as a career option where consumer-led brand building can still be enjoyed and practised by those who enjoy the intellectual stimulation of dealing with consumers.

    Implications for the new millennium

    While the economic outlook appears steady, marketers can afford to be confident and look forward to a more challenging and stimulating environment, which should meet their needs. However, an increasing pace of change is going to be the norm, and opportunities posed by the Net will demand flexibility and adaptability and maybe a more entrepreneurial attitude.

    There will be a new marketing world which barely exists at present, with one-to-one customer marketing creating new roles such as community managers, as traditional routes to market become superseded.

    How marketers will reconcile the need to adapt to these changes while trying to find intellectual brand-building opportunities and flexible work practices will be one of the key issues over the next few years.

    Yet for many, the Internet will present a superb opportunity to get back to the real consumer marketing which global branding has eroded. Whatever the precise prognosis, the turn of the century represents a good and exciting time for marketers. For those who can thrive on the pace of change, the new millennium will be an exhilarating time.

    Hilary Hoolahan is joint managing director of Ball & Hoolahan


    Salary increases average 8.4 per cent across the industry, down on 1999 but ahead of expectation and inflation.

    The biggest pay rises went to senior and group product managers, although marketing directors also earned higher than average increases.

    The top ten per cent of those with only five years experience in marketing can earn £50,000-plus.

    Average salaries by job title rise in proportion to the size of marketing budgets.

    The best paying sectors are healthcare, alcoholic beverages, retail, IT and broadcast, but mean salary does not take into account package benefits such as shares and options.

    Fifty-two per cent believe they need to move company not just job by the end of 2000. This is a ten per cent increase on last year.

    Almost half of the survey respondents work in companies with “flexible” working practices. The most common are home working, flexitime, hot-desking, and career breaks.

    Expectations for 2000 and beyond are optimistic, with more than 50 per cent expecting higher than 5 per cent increases.

    The average marketing director earns £58,112 but the top ten per cent at this level earned about £90,000-plus in salary alone.

    Marketers in US-owned companies earn about a six per cent premium to UK companies, which can be almost ten per cent when looking at the top ten per cent performers.

    Women achieved the same average pay rises as men, but differentials exist in terms of salaries, except at the junior end.

    Marketers consider the consultancy, travel and leisure sectors – which are not the best paid – as the most attractive. This reflects how marketers value job satisfaction and challenge more then remuneration.

    Challenging work and financial reward far outweigh job security as key requirements in selecting jobs.

    Given the above, it is likely that the Internet will become the most appealing job sector in future salary surveys.


    The annual salary survey, which has been running for 17 years, has always been acknowledged as an authoritative and unique guide to pay, benefits, conditions and expectations in the marketing industry. As well as acting as a benchmark for marketers of their earning power, it has been a valuable tool for employers who wish to recruit and retain marketing professionals.

    Marketing Week and leading marketing recruitment specialist Ball & Hoolahan have continued to upgrade the survey that was relaunched last year, to build on previous objectives and to go further in understanding marketers’ motivations.

    A similar self-completion questionnaire was developed this year but included new questions for the millennium. It was structured across six key areas: marketing career to date; pay, benefits and other job aspects; the marketing department; career and millennium aspirations; personal information; and company information.

    Research was carried out by Compass. The questionnaire was mailed out in the second week of October 1999, and the cut-off date for responses was November 23.

    The final response rate was 13 per cent, yielding 1,540 responses. The sample was slanted more towards women (53 per cent) than men (46 per cent).

    Eight per cent of respondents were marketing directors; more marketing managers responded than any other category (36 per cent), indicating the breadth of roles that this title covers. Chief executive/chairman and managing director only represented about one per cent of the sample.

    Individual titles from previous years were grouped together for the first time this year under marketing services, to include advertising, PR, direct marketing, sales promotion and research.

    The next largest group was marketing services manager (12 per cent of the sample), followed by product/brand manager (ten per cent), marketing services executive (seven per cent), senior product manager (six per cent), assistant product manager (three per cent), group product manager (three per cent), and graduate trainee/marketing assistant (two per cent). Other main marketing job titles mentioned were marcoms executive (two per cent) – a new title this year – and trade/retail marketing manager (two per cent).

    Marketing services director, national accounts manager, sales director, sales manager, trade/retail marketing executive, category manager and category executive each represented two per cent or less of the sample.

    Twenty-five per cent of the sample were aged between 26 and 30 years, while 22 per cent were between 31 and 35. Eleven per cent were aged between 36 and 40, and ten per cent were 25 and under.

    Specially tailored analyses are available on request.

    Copies of the report on the Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan Millennium Salary Survey are available from Emma Bathie, Marketing Week, 12-26 Lexington Street, London W1R 4HQ. Tel: 020-7970-6301 or fax 020-7907-6722. The price is £129 including postage and packing. More detailed, tailor-made reports are available on request. Please make cheques payable to Marketing Week.


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