Marketing’s strategic importance is on the rise

It is hard to believe the UK is closing in on two years since the first national lockdown, when pandemic life became a reality.

Amid the uncertainty and anxiety, marketers fought for the survival of their companies, called upon to offer direction to brands struggling to look beyond the next day, never mind the next month.

The Covid crisis has seen marketing claim greater prominence at the top table in many businesses, emerging as a source of strategic counsel with the ability to steer a course through the confusion.

In fact, marketing has gained a greater strategic role in businesses over the past 12 months, according to almost a third (30.9%) of the 4,463 marketers responding to the 2022 Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey.

The exclusive survey reveals a further 14.8% say marketing is better appreciated, while 13.4% claim marketing is seen as more influential.

Just 10.3% of all respondents say marketing is not seen as a priority for investment, with only 3.3% describing marketing as being less appreciated over the past year.

The evolving perception of marketing could be having an impact on the way marketers view their ability to drive change. Some 60.3% of all respondents say they are either ‘very confident’ or ‘somewhat confident’ in their ability to influence change in their organisation.

When asked how confident marketers feel in their role and wider impact on the business compared to last year, 17.5% say they feel ‘much more secure’ and 36.2% ‘somewhat more secure’.

While marketing may be gaining in strategic prominence there remains a wider sense of upheaval. Teams have restructured and merged with other departments at a greater rate. The analysis reveals crucial skills gaps emerging in data and analytics, as well as divergent hiring priorities for SMEs compared to large businesses, and a demand among marketers for hybrid working.

The data suggests limited progress has been made to address the diversity crisis highlighted in both the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Career and Salary Survey. Some 75.3% of the 4,463 respondents identify as white, down from 84.6% in 2021 and 88% in 2020.

By comparison, 12.2% of respondents identify as Asian (up from 4.1% of the sample in 2021), 5.1% as mixed race (4% in 2021) and 2.7% as black (up from 1.2% in 2021).

As in 2021, the sense of imbalance within the industry also applies to the socio-economic background of marketers and geographical split of roles, highlighting a continued bias towards London and the South East (56.8%).

The bias towards more than half of marketing roles being in London and the South East is important from both a racial diversity and socio-economic diversity perspective. While the 2021 Census is yet to report, the 2011 Census revealed 44.9% of people in London identified as white British and 14.9% as ‘other white’.

Office of National Statistics data from 2019, found London was the most ethnically and religiously diverse region in England and Wales, with 43.4% of people in the capital identifying as white British, 14.6% ‘other white’ and 7.9% as black African.

In this context, the Career and Salary Survey statistics suggest that ahead of the two-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, and the commitments made by brands to widen access to people from diverse backgrounds, a long-term focus is needed to address diversity within marketing.

While 22.6% of the sample identify as coming from a working class or skilled working class background, some 71% of marketers identify as coming from either a lower middle, middle or upper middle class background.

Furthermore, the data reveals a persistent skew within the marketing industry towards youth. Some 5.7% of respondents are classed as Gen Z (aged under 25) and 59.7% are millennials (aged 25 to 40), while 28.2% of the sample are classed as Gen X (aged 40 to 54) and 6% as baby boomers (aged 55 and over).

To get a better sense of the issues emerging over the past year, Marketing Week has spoken to a variety of marketers to get their views, with in-depth features to follow exploring the skills gap, changing team characteristics, the rise of hybrid working and how brands are dealing with the great resignation.

Click here to read the first feature in the series, looking at what is helping to boost perceptions of marketing.

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