Dealing with Brexit is the top challenge for UK marketers for 2020, with 44% marking it as a priority, according to a survey of 259 marketing executives, managers and directors. The survey, commissioned by us, put Brexit ahead of productivity (37%), marketing technology (37%) and cost-cutting (29%) as an area of focus for the coming year.
But what does it mean to be preparing for Brexit? We asked our network of marketing professionals how Brexit might affect them. Here were their top concerns:
It seems that UK marketers are concerned that the connotations associated with being a British brand are changing. Here’s what they told us:
“We’re questioning what it means to be a British brand in a post-Brexit world. We’ve always been proudly British, but we’re noticing more resistance to that messaging, especially from our international customers.” Marketing Manager, FMCG
“For us, the real question is whether we talk about Brexit. Our CEO is a firm ‘remainer’ but we’re not sure whether to go boldly and pick a side, or to just shy away from the debate.” CMO, tech company
It seems all the uncertainty around Brexit is starting to have an impact on business activity. The marketers we spoke to echoed this sentiment:
“While we haven’t seen major budget cuts yet, the expectation is that they are coming. When the economy slows down, marketing is one of the first to be hit.” Marketing manager, service business
“Brexit is definitely having an impact. We’re not making any big spending decisions while we wait for an outcome.” CEO, recruitment company
Uncertainty is the only certainty when it comes to Brexit, and as we watch it unfold marketers feel they need to be ready to change tack pretty quickly if necessary.
“We just don’t know what is going to happen, and what impact that will have on the economy in general and our sector in particular. That means we have to be ready for whatever Brexit throws at us – it feels as though we might need to have to change direction on short notice.” CEO, recruitment company
As much as Brexit will affect businesses, it will also affect consumers. We don’t know exactly what the impact of Brexit will be, but it could affect everything from the contents of the weekly grocery shop to how easy it is to travel abroad. This means that marketers need to consider the impact on their customers and adapt messaging accordingly.
“We need to be sensitive to the fact that our customers might not have the buying power that they did before, and our messaging needs to reflect that.” Comms manager, food and beverage
“We don’t know what proportion of our customer base in Britain is European, so we need to be careful not to isolate them.” Marketing director, property
The marketing sector employs over 150,000 according to Creative Skillset. And we know that Brexit will affect the workforce in the UK.
“If it becomes harder for Europeans to work in the UK, we expect that to impact our workforce. We already have a major skills shortage in marketing, so this could be one of the most negative outcomes of Brexit.” Agency CEO.
Whether it’s changes to VAT rules or import-export regulations, marketing agencies, like all businesses, will have to adjust all their paperwork and processes.
“This is going to be a necessity, stealing time from much more important and valuable business processes.” Agency CEO.