Brand reputation remains key for Northern Irish marketers

Eileen Curry

AS workforces across Northern Ireland return to the office or continue to work from home, a survey of current marketing priorities from the Chartered Institute of Marketing has revealed that brand reputation remains key for Northern Irish marketers, with 89 per cent stating it was among their top two priorities.

Across the UK, six in ten marketers rank this as their number one priority, in contrast to discounts and promotions which came bottom of the list. The communication of employee and public safety messages came in at number two.

The survey of 344 CIM members globally or which 240 were from the UK also revealed that online sales were the highest ranked of sales promotional strategies, emerging as a top priority for 15 per cent of marketers.

Offering discounts and promotions to increase product sales and footfall was a very low priority for the vast majority of marketers (73 per cent), with only 2 per cent reporting it as their top priority. Similarly, generating in-store footfall was only a top priority for 3 per cent of marketers.

As redundancies in Northern Ireland have more than doubled over the last year, with 9,000 job cuts been made due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s clear that the local economy has suffered. In order to bridge the recovery, marketers across Northern Ireland must put brand reputation into action and communicate clearly what their business does, where they stand in the current market and the value they can give to their customers.

With the government again urging people in Northern Ireland to work from home if they can, it’s clear that marketing professionals will be required by businesses to support them long-term, as companies embrace flexible working.

The fact that reputation is so important to marketers in the region is a reassuring sign and evidence they are not prepared to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term pain. But as lockdown measures continue it is still important for marketers to maintain customer engagement, despite promotional activity coming low on the list of priorities.

Some 87 per cent of marketers felt confident or very confident that the marketing sector would bounce back after Covid-19. This is a finding that reflects recent research from Gartner, that found that 73 per cent of CMOs globally expected the impact of Covid-19 to be short-lived (CMO Spend Survey Research, 2020).

Ultimately, the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic remain to be seen, but with the guiding principles of brand and a renewed focus on e-commerce, today’s marketers across Northern Ireland are better equipped than ever to take on the challenges ahead.

Key findings:

• 89 per cent of Northern Irish marketers felt brand reputation was among their top two priorities.

• Marketers across the whole UK agreed with 60 per cent ranking it number one, with communicating safety messaging at number two.

• Conversely, discounts and promotions were reported as marketers’ lowest priority.

• E-commerce ranked the highest priority sales strategy, whilst generating in-store footfall was only reported as a top priority by 3 per cent of respondents.

Eileen Curry is chair of CIM Ireland

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