Picture: 123RF / VALERII MATVIIENKO
Picture: 123RF / VALERII MATVIIENKO

Marketing in SA remains on the back foot as the discipline is still perceived to be more concerned with creativity than business results. The upshot is that marketing is not taken seriously in the boardroom, says the latest Brand Barometer Survey.

The study, out next week, is compiled by Brand Council SA, an industry body established 10 years ago, which polls a
range of stakeholders such as marketing directors and brand managers, advertising and branding agencies and academics. The survey was conducted between July and September last year.

Among the questions asked were: how the local marketing sector ranks internationally; whether it is connecting effectively with business, government and society; whether it is producing inspiring thinking; whether spending patterns are changing; and to what extent it has transformed.

The survey finds that the local brand marketing industry is generally on par with international standards and is getting better in areas of creative products and insights.

One brand owner, who has travelled extensively abroad, says the SA brand marketing industry is "generally of a much better quality; we have a lot to be proud of in SA".

Of particular concern to ad and brand agencies is the quality of new personnel. Another brand owner is quoted as saying: "Not enough young dynamic marketers are coming into the industry and marketing intelligence is declining due to poor education. There are still too many old-school marketers in key positions. There is also not enough diversity in the marketing profession and the marketing discipline within businesses has low decision-making power — procurement and technology disciplines have more say than marketers."

In an economy where growth prospects in 2018 remain poor, over 90% of respondents believe marketing has a key role to play, while 80% say marketing has a vital role in building national culture and pride through brand initiatives which could boost the economy. A majority of respondents say brand marketers have a responsibility to "influence social change and progress".

Though over 80% of respondents say marketing is not taken seriously enough by business, they also point a finger at themselves for not always demonstrating value. No less than 85% of those surveyed say "demonstrable brand marketing effectiveness should be in the key performance areas of every marketing director". Almost 70% of agencies believe marketing is not taken seriously in the boardroom, while marketers themselves do not believe in their own effectiveness: 58% say they are sidelined. But that’s down from 69% in 2014.

There is a large gap between the assessment of the quality of people entering the profession: 43% of agencies find the standard unacceptable, while 63% of brand owners are happy with skills levels.

The survey also notes that almost 60% of all respondents understand the broad-based black economic empowerment marketing, advertising & communications charter only slightly or not at all.

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