Marketers more optimistic even as budgets fall

Marketers are feeling much more optimistic this quarter, according to the CMO Survey from Deloitte. Nearly half (49%) reported feeling “more optimistic” about the U.S. economy, up from 30.1% in the spring survey. 

The Marketer Optimism Score, which measures marketer sentiment on a scale of 0 to 100, went from 58.3 in the spring to 66.5 currently. By sector, B2C Services companies report the highest rate of optimism, with 72% reporting feeling more optimistic. It was followed by B2B product marketers at 67.1%, B2B services at 66% and B2C products at 64.5%.

Dig deeper: Adobe forecasts 4.8% growth YoY in online holiday spending

Methodology. The survey had 316 responses from marketing leaders at for-profit U.S. companies, 95.6% of respondents were VP-level or above.

Marketing spend. Overall, inflationary pressures are still leading to a decrease in marketing spend levels, with 45% of companies reporting this loss. However, these pressures have weakened from the first half of 2023, when 52% reported this decrease. Also, the number of companies reporting “no impact” has risen from 31% to 38% over the same time period.

By sector, B2B product companies were most likely to report that inflationary pressures are impacting their marketing spend levels (53.2%), followed by B2C product companies (35.6%), B2C services companies (39.4%), and B2B services companies (42.9%).

Marketing budget. Marketing budgets have dropped near to pre-Covid levels, with marketing expenses accounting for 10.6% of company budgets and 9.2% of sales revenues currently, down from 12.3% and 10.9%, respectively, in the spring. B2C product companies have the highest percentage of their budgets (18.3%) and sales revenues (13.2%) allocated to marketing, followed by B2B product companies (9.7% and 7.9%, respectively), B2C services companies (10.6% and 10.4%, respectively), and B2B services companies (7.2% and 7.4%, respectively).

Why we care. It’s good to see marketer optimism on the rise despite inflationary pressures. However, these pressures are still leading to a decrease in marketing spend levels, with marketing budgets dropping near to pre-Covid levels. Are marketers’ new attitude a reflection of a new normal?

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