Majority of marketers expect job cuts to be at an end
A net balance of 17.9% of respondents foresee a rise in employment this quarter. Indeed, almost a third (29.9%) of respondents expect to see higher staffing levels within their company, the highest proportion since the second quarter of 2017.
More than half (58.1%) expect to maintain their existing workforce this quarter, while just 12% are anticipating further cuts.
In comparison, 22.9% forecasted headcount reductions in the fourth quarter of 2020, while 21.8% were predicting increases.
The last time marketers felt positive about job prospects was in the final quarter of 2019, when a net balance of 4.9% of respondents said they expected to increase headcount. Since then, with the onset of the pandemic, the outlook has been consistently negative.
At its worst point, in the second quarter of last year, a net balance of -50.3% were anticipating job cuts.
Source: IPA Bellwether
Consumers’ priorities shift as we emerge from lockdown
Safety is a major concern for consumers as lockdown restrictions lift, with 68% of people globally valuing safety ahead of everything else when thinking about doing and buying things.
But people are open to trying new things, with 70% of those aged 18 to 34 happy to interact with the world in different ways, compared to 54% of those aged over 45.
People are also less focused on material possessions, with 51% more interested in simple pleasures as we emerge from lockdown, and 52% saying they care less about frivolous things, seeing excess as an unnecessary overindulgence.
Meanwhile, the vast majority (86%) believe it is more important than ever to support local businesses as lockdowns lift.
Source: Hall & Partners
A fifth of employees feel remote working has reduced recognition
A fifth (20%) of UK workers feel they are getting less recognition from their company as a result of working remotely.
The majority (86%) feel they are more productive (44%) or just as productive (42%) since they’ve started working from home, and 55% believe they are more likely to work additional hours.
But some feel this is going unnoticed. While 20% believe they are getting less recognition, 72% feel they are getting the same amount of recognition even though they are putting in more work. Just 8% feel they are getting more recognition.
Most digital marketers struggle with personalisation
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of digital marketing leaders struggle to deliver personalised experiences to customers.
Part of the problem is marketers are still scaling their use of emerging technologies like AI and machine learning. Just 17% are using AI and machine learning broadly across the function, despite 84% suggesting it will enhance the marketing function’s ability to deliver real-time personalised experiences.
In marketing organisations that don’t use AI or machine learning, trust remains a big barrier. While 75% of respondents trialling AI and machine learning worry about trust, this drops to 53% within organisations that have these technology embedded.
Total retail sales up but most categories in decline
One year on from the first national lockdown, the retail industry “remains remarkably resilient” despite the challenges it has endured.
Total retail sales increased 8.3% in March compared to the same period in 2019 when they had decreased by 0.5%. Given the disruption of the past year as a result of the pandemic, sales growth for the five weeks to 3 April is being compared to the same period in 2019 in order to make meaningful comparisons.
However, despite total sales showing growth, eight of the 13 categories tracked remain in significant decline. While food, computing and home appliances are performing well, sectors such as fashion and beauty remain in double digit decline compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Food sales increased by 14.7% on a like-for-like basis and 11.6% on a total basis over the three months to March compared to 2019. However, non-food retail sales decreased by 4.5% on a like-for-like basis and 4.7% on a total basis.
Meanwhile, non-food online sales increased 94% in March on a two-year basis against growth of 3% in March 2019.