Revealed: The cost of Covid on marketing careers

The 2021 Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey reveals the toll the pandemic has taken on marketers’ careers, exposing the impact of the crisis on team structures and wider business culture.

2021 Career and Salary Survey logoThe onset of the coronavirus pandemic sent shockwaves through the marketing community. Not only have marketers been thrust into the world of remote working, many have seen their entire industry put into hibernation as normal life has been paused for the best part of a year.

The reverberations of Covid-19 have been far reaching, felt by marketers at every level and across every sector. While some have seen sales surge as they pivoted to direct-to-consumer models or invested in new routes to market, others have faced redundancy, furlough and stalling progression as businesses fought for survival.

The 2021 Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey reveals a tenth of the 2,453 respondents have been made redundant over the past 12 months, while 12.7% were placed on furlough. As a result of the pandemic, 11.7% of marketers have had a promotion delayed or made unlikely, while a fifth (20.3%) have taken a cut in their wage or bonus package. Some 7.7% of all respondents have had their hours cut, significantly impacting their earning potential.

Marketers have also seen their teams restructured, departments merged and specialisms added to cope with the disruption of the past 12 months. Our analysis shows agency relationships have evolved, functions like internal communications have risen in prominence and brand purpose has been tested to its limits.

The data also suggests progress to address the diversity crisis highlighted by the 2020 edition of the Career and Salary Survey has been slow. Some 84.6% of respondents identify as white, only slightly down from the 88% figure in 2020.

By comparison, just 4.1% of respondents identify as Asian, 4% as mixed race and 1.2% as black. Last year, just 5% of marketers responding to the Career and Salary Survey identified as Asian, 4% as mixed race and 2% as black. Despite the commitments made during the summer following the death of George Floyd and the reenergised Black Lives Matter movement, much more work clearly needs to be done to widen access to marketing to people from diverse backgrounds.

This sense of imbalance within the industry stretches to the geographical split of roles, exposing an entrenched bias towards London and the South East (58.6%), as well as a persistent socio-economic skew towards the middle classes. While 21.7% of respondents identify as coming from a working class or skilled working class background, some 75.5% of marketers identify as coming from either a lower middle, middle or upper middle class background.

The data also reveals the skew within the marketing industry towards youth. Some 41.5% of respondents to the 2021 Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey are aged 25 to 34, versus just 5.9% aged 55 and over.

To get a better sense of the disruption suffered over a turbulent 12 months, Marketing Week has spoken to a variety of marketers across different levels of seniority to get their views.

Click here to read the first instalment in our series exploring the issues of careers amid Covid