Marketing budgets rose in Q1, report shows

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

UK marketing budgets increased in the first quarter of 2024, a new report shows, with spending swinging towards sales activation efforts.

The IPA Bellwether Report for 2024 found that 24% of panellists saw an upward revision to their budgets in the quarter, with 15% seeing a reduction – a net balance of 9%.

While budgets were up overall, the data suggested a move away from big ticket advertising campaigns. Main media spend had a net balance of -1%, mainly driven by declines in out-of-home spending, while spending on sales promotions had a positive net balance figure of 5%.

This growth looked set to continue into next year’s budget, with 41% of respondents lifting the total amount available to marketing, while only 18% reporting cuts.

Paul Bainsfair, Director General at the IPA, noted a growing optimism both in the UK economy and in marketing spend intentions.

“Ahead of a suspected lightening-up on some economic pressures closer to home in the coming months, and despite wider geo-political uncertainties, UK companies are once again recognising the value of advertising by revising their spend up this quarter,” he said.

Commenting on the shift towards sales activation, he added: “While sales promotions can stimulate short-term sales increases, the evidence also shows that their over-use can undermine a brand’s profit margins and pricing power over time by habituating consumers to buy mainly on price.

“As always, a careful balance needs to be struck to ensure longer-term growth, for which greater investment in brand advertising, particularly in main media, pays dividends.”

(All figures quoted here have been rounded to the nearest percentage point.)

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