Profit warnings, overworked marketers, biased AI concerns: 5 interesting stats to start your week

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

Nearly one-fifth of listed firms issued profit warnings last year

Almost one in five (18.2%) UK-listed companies issued profit warnings in 2023, with businesses operating in the consumer discretionary space being the biggest offenders.

The proportion of UK-listed firms issuing profit warnings last year was higher than it was in 2008, when the financial crash started.

In 2023, 294 UK-listed firms issued profit warnings. This is a slight improvement from 2022 when 305 companies issued profit warnings.

Last year, firms in the consumer discretionary space issued the highest number of profit warnings. Over one in three (35%) of those issuing profit warnings were consumer discretionary businesses.

The data suggests cost pressures are beginning to have less of an impact on businesses, though. Just 10% of profit warnings in 2023 were due to cost pressures, versus 41% in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Higher interest rates and delayed corporate spending both played a bigger role in putting pressure on firms’ profits. Almost a quarter of profit warnings last year related to interest rates.

Source: EY-Parthenon

Nearly half of marketers asked to take on more responsibility without higher pay

More than two-fifths of marketers are being asked to take on more responsibility without seeing a sufficient increase in remuneration, according to Marketing Week’s exclusive 2024 Career & Salary Survey.

The trend is being felt most keenly at CMO and marketing director level, with 40.7% reporting increased responsibility without their salary keeping pace.

It is a phenomenon felt across seniority levels though, as two-fifths (40.7%) of marketers in management roles and 38.4% of junior marketers also reporting an increase in workload without proportionate financial compensation.

Perhaps surprisingly, marketers at larger firms are feeling more overworked than those at smaller businesses. While 38.7% of SME marketers agree their workload has increased without an uplift in pay, this increases to 41.5% for marketers in larger businesses.

Source: Marketing Week

Marketers forced to take on more responsibility without an uplift in pay, survey finds

Two-thirds of marketers worry AI will produce biased, plagiarised or misaligned content

More than two-thirds (69%) of marketers worry generative AI will produce content that is biased, plagiarised or misaligned with their brand’s values.

That’s despite over half (52%) of marketers already using AI or automation in their work, and 82% believing AI can empower them to create content more effectively.

Yet one-third (32%) don’t trust AI to create content that captures their brand’s values.

Looking to the sales team, 63% agree that AI can give them a competitive edge over other companies, while 86% agree that it will simplify the process of upselling.

Source: HubSpot

Ad spend growth set to exceed expectations

Full-year advertising spend for 2023 is forecast to increase by 6.4% to £37bn, according to the Advertising Association and Warc’s quarterly expenditure report.

This is an upward revision of 3.8 percentage points on October’s forecast and was driven by a 15.9% increase in the third quarter, with total spend in the three months to the end of September confirmed as £9.6bn, which the AA says is the first time ad spend has ever exceeded £9bn in the third quarter.

Final full-year figures for 2023 will be published in late April 2024.

In the third quarter, search – which includes retail media – experienced its strongest performance in 18 months with a 23.7% rise. Online display also increased 24.8%.

Source: Advertising Association/Warc

Consumer confidence reaches two-year high

Consumer confidence reached a two-year high in January, with all five measures that make up GfK’s monthly Consumer Confidence Barometer increasing.

The overall index score has increased by three points, while still in negative territory at -19, it is the highest score since January 2022.

Notably, people’s view of their personal finances over the coming year came out of minus figures for the first time in 24 consecutive months, increasing two points to zero.

Looking back to the past year, consumers also view their personal finances (up two points to -12) and the general economy (up three points to -41) more favourably.

People’s expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months have also improved, up four points to -21, while the major purchase index saw a three-point boost to -20.

Source: GfK