Brand reputation number one marketing priority post-lockdown

Brand reputation number one marketing priority post-lockdown

Promotional discounts reported as low on priority list as brand reputation remains key concern for UK marketers in brand new survey results

As many businesses begin a return to the office environment this month, a survey of current UK marketing priorities from the Chartered Institute of Marketing has revealed that brand reputation remains key in coping with Covid-19. Six in ten marketers rank this as their number one priority, in contrast to discounts and promotions which came bottom of the list. The communication of employee and public safety messages came in at number two. 

In times of precarity, it is natural to return to the foundational principles of brand to re-build customer relationships when many may be evaluating or streamlining their spending. In recent months, even, there has been a resurgence of revival campaigns centred on ‘nostalgia marketing’, where big-name brands have returned to well-worn assets to stir up happy memories or re-invent heritage products.

Marketers taking a long-term view to re-engaging customers

The survey of 344 CIM members also revealed that online sales were the highest ranked of sales promotional strategies, emerging as a top priority for 15% of marketers. Offering discounts and promotions to increase product sales and footfall was a very low priority for the vast majority of marketers (73%), with only 2% reporting it as their top priority. Similarly, generating in-store footfall was only a top priority for 3% of marketers.

Chris Daly, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, shared his relief to see the emerging trends: “Despite all the commercial challenges, it is reassuring to see reputation ranked first. It is clear that the UK marketing community is not prepared to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term pain. However, with the lockdown loosening at the start of July, it is a concern not to see more confidence in promotional activity. Marketers have worked hard to maintain customer engagement during lockdown, as restrictions now ease it is key that they make the most of this opportunity to help drive the recovery we are all hoping for.”

Marketing professionals hit hard by the pandemic but are confident the sector will bounce back

The research, compiled in August, also uncovered a significant personal and financial impact on marketing professionals in the UK. One in ten (9%) of the respondents said that they had been made redundant, one in five (20%) reported that they had taken a pay cut and a similar proportion (17.5%) said that they had taken enforced holiday. Given that a motivated and engaged workforce will be crucial to bouncing back post-pandemic, these figures are cause for concern.

Furthermore, if these statistics were replicated across the marketing profession, which CIM’s 2018 market sizing work with PWC estimated employs 415,000 people across the UK, it would equate to approximately 37,000 redundancies and 83,000 marketers taking pay cuts. 

Significant numbers of marketers also appear to have benefitted from the government’s furlough, with one in six (17%) saying they had been placed on furlough during the period of the pandemic.

Despite this, 87% of marketers felt confident or very confident that the marketing sector would bounce back after COVID-19. This is a finding that reflects recent research from Gartner, that found that 73% of CMOs globally expected the impact of Covid-19 to be short-lived (CMO Spend Survey Research, 2020). Ultimately, the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic remain to be seen, but with the guiding principles of brand and a renewed focus on e-commerce, today’s marketers are better equipped than ever to take on the challenges ahead.

Key findings:

  • 60% of marketers ranked brand reputation as their number one priority post-lockdown, with communicating safety messaging at number two
  • Conversely, discounts and promotions were reported as marketers’ lowest priority
  • E-commerce ranked the highest priority sales strategy, whilst generating in-store footfall was only reported as a top priority by 3% of respondents
  • 9% of marketers surveyed have been made redundant, with a further 20% taking a pay cut as a result of the pandemic
  • 87% of marketers, however, feel confident that the sector will bounce back.


If you’re looking to make an impact with your brand in the coming months, discover CIM’s brand new Strategic Marketing Planning for 2021 virtual training course. Delivered in weekly 90-minute sessions, this bitesize learning will help you to refocus your strategy and planning process for the uncertain times ahead. 

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