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Pearlfinders first half review suggests opportunities in FMCG, desire for more high street insight and more influential influencers

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This week saw the publication of a ‘first half’ update to Pearlfinders’ annual Index report, aggregating sentiment from the first six months of 2017. And what a remarkable six months it’s been. As challenges and objectives shift dramatically among the top spending brands across Europe, snap supplier reviews are triggered and opportunities reveal themselves to those able to approach the marketplace with an entrepreneurial, objective and scientific eye.

Having cross-referenced with Rainmaker’s own results, I’ve picked out a few trends from the report that I think will be particularly useful for new business teams to consider as they allocate resources for the remainder of 2017 and beyond.

FMCG opportunities

It’s great to see that demand for advertising agency expertise and larger ticket creative projects is up on 2016, with 12% of brands increasing spend in this area. Now’s the time to be scaling up your prospecting to FMCG brands many of whom have been telling Pearlfinders that they need to act to strengthen the relationship between customer and brand. Looking over the meetings Rainmaker has booked for clients with brands including PZ Cussons Kellogg’s, Hovis and Tetley, there’s a consensus that investment in high profile, creative campaigns is urgently needed across the sector to counterbalance the ongoing noise of promotional activity, CRM, social and digital content.

A heterogeneous high street

While the Pearlfinders Index points to an improvement in the number of retail sector brands reviewing since the start of the year, I would add from the conversations my team are having that it’s something of a mixed bag. While Boots, KFC, Sainsbury’s and Superdry all appointed new partners in the first half of the year, many of the biggest names on the high street remain conservative with marketing budgets. Agencies therefore need first-hand insight more than ever to determine which brands are genuinely prepared to invest in building their brands and which ones are still in more of a traditional merchandising mind-set.

Creating discontent

I see that demand for social content also continues to rise – accounting for over 17% of upcoming opportunities. From ongoing conversations with agencies and marketing budget holders I can tell you that this is not so much due to the universal success of content marketing campaigns, but rather due to brands looking to urgently adjust strategy to improve on underwhelming results. Influencers in particular are being singled out by many brands as not delivering the ROI that was hoped for either due to diluting their impact by taking on too many partnership, or not delivering content that actually translates to an uplift in sales.

Set your own schedule

As always, you need to be proactive to capitalise on these opportunities. Last month I read with interest that scheduled reviews – and especially those conducted via intermediaries – have dipped in the first half of the year. While the election and ongoing Brexit negotiations may have discouraged some brands from ostentatious pitch activity, it’s part of a broader trend for projects to be awarded, without an extensive formal pitch, to agencies that maintain an ongoing dialogue with marketing decision-makers.

What may start as a small ad hoc brief can be grown to six or seven figure accounts via regular tactical communications to existing contacts – something we deliver time and time again for our clients.

Download your free copy of The Pearlfinders Index: H1 Update here.

Gareth Dixon is partner for client delivery at Rainmaker Consulting