Consulting firm Scopen recently released the latest trends in marketer-agency relationships in Brazil, Spain, the UK, Columbia, India and China. According to the research, clients are generally working with agencies on a contractual basis as opposed to a fixed retainer. The preferred agencies are bound by a service-level agreement and are contracted to perform a variety of services.

In Brazil, for example, 93.6% of marketers interviewed said they have contracts with the agencies they work with on a regular basis, compared to SA’s 77.3%. The reason for the response of the Brazilian firms is likely that media agencies and creative agencies still consist of one unit and haven’t been separated. In Argentina the percentage is 33.3%, in Spain 33% and in Mexico 32.9%. In SA 22.7% of the work is project based.

As far as integration and specialisation goes, the statistics show that China appears to have a preference for specialist agencies in each discipline, probably because the Chinese market is so much larger than others. The remaining markets use a mix of integrated agencies that best meet the client’s needs together with specialist agencies where necessary. SA favours integrated agencies very slightly, with 55.1% of clients choosing to work with integrated agencies versus the 44.9% who prefer to work with specialists.

While Scopen’s future relationship model responses provide clarity about how clients are working with their agencies, it’s also important to look at how they would prefer to work. In this respect, chief marketing officers (CMOs) in China indicate that they would prefer to have more integrated agencies who can meet all their communications needs in a one-stop shop. On the other hand, CMOs in India say the agencies they now work with tend to be integrated (46.8%) but they would like to see more specialisation. Columbia and Mexico are working with more specialised agencies (46.6% and 43.2% respectively) and CMOs there say would like to see more integration.

The big take out

Clients are increasingly working with agencies on a contractual as opposed to a retainer basis.

Scopen’s statistics reveal that many marketers would like to change the way they interact with their agencies.

While this appears to be a global trend, there really is no set way of working – it depends on the CMO, the marketing team and the projects they are working on. Specific needs in a particular market dictate the best way to work, and this will vary every year. With this in mind, it would serve agencies well to be able to cater for clients regardless of their preference for integrated or specialised services.

Johanna McDowell is the Scopen Africa and UK partner.