Half of the UK public is bombarded with irrelevant marketing

20 | 04 | 2017

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), the world’s leading professional marketing body, champion of customer engagement and best practice today launches new research which reveals the general public is being bombarded with marketing materials.

42% of people surveyed say they receive marketing via social media at least once a day, and over a third (36%) receive calls once a week or more.

Although customers receive a high level of marketing materials, half of those who have ever received them say it is never relevant to them. Of those who receive promotional materials, it is most common to receive marketing about a hobby or interest they don’t have (61%) or for them to receive promotions for offers in areas they neither live in nor visit (35%).

Even more concerning is that over half (55%) of people receiving promotional material believe the majority of these organisations obtained their contact details without their consent.

CIM’s research also revealed the sectors that are the most and least trusted when it comes to data management. The lowest ranking sectors are fast moving consumer goods* – only 1% deem them trustworthy, followed by media, including publishers (2%).

Meanwhile there was some positive recognition for the work of financial services (34%), healthcare and pharmaceuticals (25%) and professional and business services (16%) on the way they manage people’s data.

CIM is committed to working with organisations to ensure best data practice is embedded; to raise standards and help to rebuild customer trust. To do this, CIM has recently launched a new campaign entitled Data Right - calling on businesses to be more responsible with the way they manage data, in order to improve the relationship between businesses and customers.

Chris Daly, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, comments: “What’s most worrying about these results is that they are unsurprising. In our interconnected, 'always on' world, being bombarded with irrelevant materials has become the expected or the norm. It's not good enough and it's eroding the trust between customers and businesses. We need to act now and this is why we are asking organisations to take the Data Right pledge, to commit to showing greater respect and accountability to their customers.”

“Businesses have a responsibility to their customers to be transparent, respectful and clear about how they use their personal information. Not only is this best data practice, but it ultimately will help consumers feel more confident and enjoy the benefits of sharing more personal data with businesses. The more data is shared, the easier it is for companies to provide relevant, targeted communications to consumers. But until businesses step up and show their commitment to best practice, they risk alienating their customers and damaging their brand.

CIM’s Data Right pledge asks businesses to commit to do four key things:

Be clear: businesses should tell consumers how and when they will use their data

Show respect: companies need to ensure trust, honesty and accountability are at the heart of the relationship with their customers

Be in the know: businesses need to continually familiarise themselves with the dos and don’ts of data rights and the law, such as the upcoming changes due to new GDPR legislation, and best practice

Show the benefits: businesses must help customers understand how data collection can benefit them

*FMCG includes packaged goods such as toiletries, soft drinks, etc.


Notes to editors

Responsible data management ranking by industry:



Consumer trust


Banking/ financial services/ insurance



Healthcare and pharmaceuticals



Professional and business services



Not for profit/ public sector/ education (including charities)



Travel/ hotels/ leisure






Energy/ petrochem/ mining/ utilities






Agriculture/ forestry/ fishing






Manufacturing/ construction/ engineering









Marketing services (including agencies and research)



Media (including publishing)



Fast-moving consumer goods


About the research:

  • CIM conducted the research in partnership with YouGov between 30th-31st March 2017. 
  • The total sample size was 2000 adults across London, South East, South West, East of England, East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, North East, North West, Scotland and Wales.

About Data Right:

In today’s customer-led world, consumer data is a business critical issue for organisations if they want to reach the right audience, in the right way, at the right time. With new General Data Protection Regulation legislation coming into effect in May 2018, getting data right will also become a legal imperative – making it even more crucial for businesses to get their house in order now.    

CIM’s recent research report, ‘Whose Data Is It Anyway?’ revealed that 92% of consumers do not fully understand how marketers and organisations use their personal information, and half of all consumers (57%) do not trust an organisation to use their data responsibly.

This is why CIM is working with organisations to improve standards across the industry and re-build customer trust, by asking businesses to make a pledge to uphold best practice when it comes to looking after customer data.

About CIM:

CIM is the independent, international organisation that has been supporting, developing and representing the marketing profession for over 100 years. CIM is the leading professional marketing body in the world, with 33,079 members (19,678 professionals and 13,401 students). There are 5,357 Chartered Marketers worldwide with 576 new Chartered Marketers in the last year. CIM has 163 study centres in 39 countries and there are 79 countries with exam centres. In the last year, 8,303 people registered at 287 UK CIM events.

Find out more about CIM by visiting www.cim.co.uk

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