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The Future of Work Research Marketing

Week in numbers: brand sales drop 16% after ad pause & half of British SMEs ignoring GDPR


By Sam Bradley, Journalist

August 13, 2021 | 6 min read

Pitch deck running low on hard numbers? Presentation slides looking a little bare? Allow us to help. Each week, we gather the insightful new research you may have missed to inform your work or inspire a new idea.

Week in numbers graphic asset - pink

The slump in recent digital retail sales appears to be leveling out, according to IMRG

This week, we look at new studies on the impact of advertising, GDPR compliance among SMEs and brand investment in innovation.

Advertising inactivity translates to 16% sales slump

A new report by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute has found there’s a high price for pausing advertising activity. The study tracked the media spend and volume sales of 70 Australian consumer brands over 20 years; in that sample, there were 57 cases of brands cutting their advertising spending for at least a year.

On average, after a brand ceased advertising it saw a steady decline in sales. After one year, the average change in sales was a 16% decrease; after two years it hit 25%, and after three 36%. The study found that smaller brands saw harsher declines than bigger ones.

Online retail slumps -9.6% year-on-year

The summer fall in digital retail sales compared with last year has begun to slow, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index report. Sales slumped a further 9.6% in July, but that’s less than the June fall of 14% – suggesting sales are leveling out again. The index tracks the sales performance of over 200 UK retailers.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG, said: “In July 2021, month-on-month (MoM) growth was ahead of where it usually is at this point of the year; with the amount spent online declining -4.4% against June, whereas -8% was typical in 2020 and 2019. For the previous three months, the MoM rate has tracked below where it would normally be as shopper spend has been redistributed across other areas following the phased easing of restrictions.”

Half of British SMEs not complying with GDPR

A new survey has revealed that half of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK are not complying to GDPR, despite 85% being aware of the regulation. A June survey of 1,110 SMEs by REaD Group found that only 40% hold their customer and prospect data in a CRM or database, 61% of SMEs do not routinely clean their data, and 42% are using direct mail to contact their customers or recruit new ones.

Scott Logie, customer engagement director at REaD Group, said: “While the majority of SMEs with a CRM or other database were aware of the need to clean and update or delete their data, there are still a significent proportion who must ensure they run the necessary cleaning or updating processes required by the GDPR.“

72% of CMOs invest in innovation, but 91% can’t say why

The annual Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2021 has found that 72% of chief marketing officers (CMOs) have increased investments in marketing innovation over the last year. 95% of CMOs reported they had dedicated headcount assigned to innovation projects, and another 93% agreed their organization was prepared to fund high-risk initiatives.

But 91% of respondents struggle to measure the impact of innovation, and 83% say that innovation has not delivered to management’s expectations. Gartner surveyed 400 CMOs and marketing leaders in North America, the UK, France and Germany between March 2021 and May 2021.

Ewan McIntyre, co-chief of research and vice-president analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice, said: “This isn’t just arguing semantics – definitions matter when it comes to delivering on business objectives related to innovation. Misunderstanding what innovation means to your organization has consequences that impact the scope, intent and outcome of activities.”

71% of young marketers say they’ve missed out on training

New research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has found that while close to half of 16-24-year-olds have considered a career in marketing, three-quarters believe they have missed out on training opportunities due to the virus.

36% of students have lost confidence in their ability, prompting 35% to undertake additional training to make up for lost ground. Marketing remains a coveted profession, with 46% of this age cohort considering it a top career choice.

The survey of 1,000 British 16-24-year-olds was conducted by Opinium, on behalf of CIM, between July 28 and August 3.

Nabs reports 14% rise in calls from ‘despondent’ adland

An industry sentiment survey conducted by Nabs has uncovered a concerning rise in despondency among advertising and media professionals during the pandemic. The charity has registered a sharp 14% rise in calls relating to low mood since 2020. The main reasons for people reaching out to the Nabs advice line and chatbot for help in the first half of 2021 were financial assistance (32%), emotional support (27%) and redundancy (18%).

Diana Tickell, chief exec at Nabs, said: “Our stats for the first half of 2021 reveal that as an industry we have to do more to support people’s low mood before we start to see more increases in this area. Relying on summer breaks won’t be enough.”

81% of younger consumers prioritize climate

A survey by Prospectus Global, on behalf of Pro Carton, has confirmed findings published elsewhere – that younger consumers see the environment as their biggest concern.

92% of British youngsters believe that damage to the environment is one of the biggest crises we face today. 43% of 11-21-year-olds believe that their parents are not doing enough, and 28% think their generation will be the one tasked with cleaning up the problem in coming years.

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