Confidence Returns to UK Businesses

UK businesses are almost five times more confident than they were a year ago according to a major survey of marketing professionals. The Marketing Confidence Monitor, run by The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and Bloomberg, found encouraging levels of confidence in business and economic performance, and a renewed focus by businesses on pursuing environmentally sustainable and socially responsible growth over the next 12 months.

The study, which is repeated quarterly and is produced from a weighted survey of more than 1,000 UK marketing professionals, has seen overall confidence increase by almost 12 points since April, and increase by a factor of five in the last year. The index, which now stands at +20.36 on a scale of +/-100, takes into account views on the wider economic outlook, career prospects, business performance and budget forecasts.*

Confidence in the UK’s wider economic situation has seen the greatest surge, with an increase of over 29 points and over three quarters (84 per cent) of respondents stating that they are as or more confident that they will see economic growth and performance in the UK over the next 12 months compared to the last.

This upbeat assessment is perhaps supported by almost 90 per cent reporting marketing spend is to remain unchanged over the next three months – a finding that is consistent with companies of all different sizes.

Encouragingly the study also revealed that the vast majority of companies are focused on socially responsible growth, with just under 80 per cent of marketers reporting that they are adapting their business policies and practices to become more sustainable and responsible.

This new emphasis on socially responsible business practice is underpinned by the seemingly growing awareness among business of the importance of such values to consumers, with 69 per cent of respondents stating that they felt responsible business practice influenced customer choice.

In contrast to this surge in confidence however, businesses remain reluctant to invest in innovation; a trend uncovered by the study during previous quarters. This reluctance to translate growing confidence into innovation investment is apparent at both ends of the business spectrum, with both large corporations and micro businesses reporting a low appetite for risk and investment in innovation over the coming 12 months.

Furthermore when businesses were asked to rank their objectives over the next 12 months, entry into new markets and categories emerged as the lowest priority, suggesting that business focus will remain on targeting organic growth within their current customer base.

Crucially, for those organisations that may be planning to adopt wider growth strategies, there is still more work to be done when it comes to realising growth potential abroad, with only 24 per cent of SMEs stating that they currently receive sufficient support from government to help with export trade.

Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive of CIM, commented: “One year on, the trend we are seeing of encouraging signs of economic recovery will only be translated into tangible and sustained growth if businesses begin to innovate and are provided with the adequate support and guidance when considering expansion into new markets.

“In order for businesses to make the all-important shift from survival to growth and to ensure sustainable recovery in a global marketplace, they must commit to investing in new business practices, products and services.

“It is hugely encouraging to see the emphasis businesses are placing on socially responsible growth. Economic performance alone is no longer enough, and businesses need to become more agile, invest in professional skills and innovate. Doing business better means responsibility, ethics and professional skills – regardless of size or sector.

“Marketing has a crucial role to play in encouraging businesses to perform in a more transparent and responsible manner as marketers are continually exposed to both the commercial needs of businesses and customer sentiment. It is the job of marketing to translate what matters to consumers to companies so that they can respond to consumer demand while increasing their bottom line.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine
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