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Each week Pearlfinders investigates a particular issue that is affecting brands' marketing spend. Below you'll see recent reports, with links to trial access of Pearlfinders if they're of interest.


  • How is Black Friday affecting agency review timescales for 2016?

    Black Friday is upon us, and although the BBC is reporting smaller crowds in some stores than last year, you’ve only got to look at your Gmail to see that brands are throwing more weight than ever behind promotions to kick-start the festive shopping period.

    Marketing teams at retailers, consumer tech and apparel brands were – naturally – pushed for time this week, however we tracked down five marketers to explore the impact Black Friday is having on planning timescales and agency review periods. Is this new phenomenon usurping traditional Boxing Day sales and bringing forward agency assessments? Or does the rhythm of long-held seasonal planning calendars remain? Crucially, we asked each marketer when, and how, agencies should be building relationships with their team to have the best chance of being invited to pitch.
  • Is eliminating marketing procurement a one-off or the start of a trend?

    PepsiCo’s shock announcement that it’s eliminating its marketing procurement function has the potential to get new business teams in a muddle. Is the move indicative of a wider decline in purchasing’s involvement in agency sourcing? Or is it just a one-off? To find out, and understand how precisely agencies need to be approaching all stakeholders at the brands they’re interested in, we got in touch with four marketing procurement professionals about where the industry’s going.
  • How retail and apparel brands can exploit events marketing

    More than half of UK millennials would rather spend money on experiences than possessions, a trend that is driving the “experience economy”. Millennials spend almost £420m monthly on live events, so these are spaces that brands increasingly need to have a presence at if they’re to continue to grab a strong share of millennial cash that still goes on physical products. Retailers and apparel brands in particular can’t risk falling behind here, so we spoke to four companies in the sector to discuss their approaches to events and how agencies can help maximise impact here.
  • Where’s the market for UK craft beers and spirits going?

    UK craft beer hit the bigtime this year when global giant SABMiller bought Greenwich-based Meantime, a brand whose 2014 sales increase of 58% dwarfs the UK beer market’s overall 1% growth. In addition to craft startups looking to mimic Meantime and scale up quickly, the UK’s big traditional brewers face difficult choices on whether or not to follow trends – have we reached peak craft? We interviewed senior marketers at two craft beer and sprit brands, as well as a major brewery and a beer-at-home delivery service, to find out what they think the next big drinks trend is, where the industry is heading and how agencies can help them adapt and thrive.
  • In-store engagement and design for homeware brands

    While home appliances and consumer electronics are increasingly online purchases for households, brands are still investing in bringing their products to life in-store in order to influence customer buying behaviour. Dyson is even opening its own standalone stores. For this week’s briefing we’ve spoken to four homeware brands to discuss their objectives and challenges here and what external marketing expertise is required to achieve this.
  • Mobile as an Engagement Platform

    For marketers in the finance and insurance industries, there’s an obvious objective to convert recently-acquired customers into those with which they enjoy long-term, loyal and profitable relationships. The proliferation of content marketing and social in the last five years has led to a scramble to build so-called “engagement” programmes in order to achieve this, however mobile remains an emerging frontier. From the latest thinking when it comes to responsive design, to the challenges of video content and infographics on-mobile, we spoke to marketers at four brands looking to stay ahead.
  • How agencies can help tech brands keep on top of trends

    With contactless payments and wearables now firmly in the mainstream, the challenge for brands in the consumer tech, gaming and media sectors is to identify – and ideally pre-empt – the next big thing. From market research and future gazing, to practical NPD and brand design support, those agencies who can help brands stay ahead of the game will often be the ones that secure retained, long-term partnerships. We spoke to four brands to find out what trends they’re keeping an eye on for 2016, and to gather some practical advice on how to respond.
  • Design investments across FMCG, retail and homeware brands

    With more than 600,000 start-up businesses expected to be created before 2015 is out – a record number – it’s fair to say that entrepreneurship is alive and well in Britain. And with an unprecedented number of challenger food and homeware brands entering the market, propelled by increasingly accessible routes to market like Ocado, it’s tough for the UK’s biggest marketing spenders to stay ahead of the pack. So we’ve spoken with four brands to understand the design trends they’re spotting, and investing in, to maintain their market dominance.
  • Balancing traditional and digital media buys in the luxury space

    Where would the publishers of print titles be were it not for consistent advertising spend from global luxury brands? These bastions of print advertising have for years been pondering how best to transfer spend online, however concerns remain that the quality of production won’t match a full-page in a glossy lifestyle title. To explore current thinking on media planning and digital advertising in the luxury space, we spoke to five top-end fashion and watch brands. We were looking to understand the varied audiences the sector is looking to reach, and how best specialist agencies can help them strike the right balance when it comes to traditional versus digital.
  • The UK apparel sector’s latest social media investments

    From the live-streaming of fashion-shows to early adoptions of visually-led social platforms like Instagram, the British apparel industry has been something of an innovator when it comes to incorporating social media into marketing planning. With London Fashion Week kicking off today, we spoke to four home-grown apparel businesses about the role social is playing in driving customer conversations in 2016 and beyond.
  • Student recruitment and brand strategy at the UK’s top-20 Universities

    With both tuition fees and living costs at an all-time high for UK students, it’s a whole new landscape for the marketing departments of the country’s leading Higher Education institutions. Today’s undergrads are spending more time than ever before scrutinising their course choices, while a changing regulatory environment is placing an unprecedented number of restrictions on what institutions can and can’t say about themselves. With this in mind, Pearlfinders spoke to senior marketing contacts at four of the UK’s top-20 universities, to explore how marketing and brand strategy – and agency requirements – are evolving.
  • What defines a thought leader in professional services?

    For professional services brands, there’s long been a battle to produce timely, impactful viewpoint pieces that foster engagement with B2B decision-makers at Blue Chip brands. It’s clear that an excellent piece of thought leadership can be the difference between winning a contract and walking away empty handed, but as “content marketing” becomes increasingly commoditised – and focused on measurable metrics like click-throughs and form completions – there’s a risk that the industry will be tempted to prioritise quantity as opposed to quality. To investigate the balance this sector is striking when it comes to the research, composition and production of thought leadership pieces, and the best route forward for agencies looking to collaborate, we spoke to four comms decision-makers across law, accountancy and management consultancy.
  • Using content to deepen customer relationships

    Content marketing is now a central part of any marketer’s tookit, however the pace of change when it comes to social media, SEO and new content platforms means agencies need to run to keep up. To help understand precisely what content marketing specialists – and integrated agencies – need to be homing in on to ensure their offering is on point, we spoke to four content marketers across the hotels, FMCG, retail and technology categories.
  • VR and marketing - what the brands think

    After years of concepts and prototypes, virtual reality is closer than ever to hitting the mainstream with the commercial launch of the Oculus Rift product set for spring 2016. Although VR is barely a commercial market yet, it could soon be a powerful tool for both e-commerce and shopper marketing. Retailers or consumer brands, for example, could use the technology to recreate real-world stores, shelving and merchandise - or even create unique buzz-building experiences.

    We spoke to decision-makers at leading brands to get their thoughts on VR and how agencies can start building conversations around the subject.
  • Asian brands targeting Europe for growth

    More and more Asian brands are looking to establish a foothold in Europe – especially the UK. Pearlfinders has identified brands across Greater China, Singapore and Malaysia that are looking to build their profile in Europe and discussed their plans and agency requirements with senior decision-makers.

  • US brands looking to expand in Europe

    At Pearlfinders, we’re always keen to pick up on any signals that brands are planning to increase marketing investment in different geographical territories. The timing couldn’t be better to be initiating communications with key decision-makers at these US brands.
  • August Account Appraisals

    August is nearly here, and common sense tells us that come Monday morning brand decision-makers will be busy queueing in airport security as they head off on their summer holidays. However something seems to have changed this year…
  • Activating Summertime Sponsorships

    Last year the Pearlfinders Index reported growing investment for sponsorship, events and experiential – key sectors include apparel, financial services, automotive, travel, FMCG and alcohol. Now, the height of British summer time provides ample opportunity for brands to activate their sponsorship properties, and a great chance to associate their products with good times in the sun shine. We have the Investec Ashes Series kicking into life, the Barclays Premier League is drawing tantalisingly close and the Fisherman’s Friend Air Guitar Championship is no doubt fresh in all of our minds. Pearlfinders therefore took the opportunity to find out more about how brand activation, experiential, consumer PR and integrated agencies can get involved.
  • Packaging technology trends for premium drinks brands

    As disposable income levels recover, consumers have returned to spending extra on discretionary items driving demand for value, premium and super-premium alcohol brands. With the craft brewing revolution now pan-continental and spirits consumption continuing to rise in emerging markets, it was a surprise to read earlier this year that global alcohol demand in fact endured a minor downturn in 2014. Despite this, the market predicts solid growth in the next few years, particularly for higher-value spirits. We took the opportunity to interview packaging technology and pack design specialists at a blend of booming indies and established market leaders, for an update on how pack design innovation can continue to support demand.
  • Personalised marketing at scale

    Big data has opened up a new opportunity for personalised marketing: it means brands can tailor executions based on demographics, interests, locations and purchase history. As brands seek to reach millions of consumers, each with personally relevant materials, the possibilities are endless: this could mean a visual tweak, a new tone of voice, video thumbnails or a fully immersive brand experience. However, as brands seek to scale up new technology, creative content treads a line between relevance and invasiveness. We were eager to understand more about how brands are approaching the challenges and opportunities of personalisation, and of course how agencies can continue to add value to the marketing mix.
  • What does the ideal agency look like to a big brand decision-maker?

    For this week’s briefing, we asked decision-makers at four major brands across retail, automotive and property to describe how they envisage their ideal agency partner. Is it an integrated shop or a specialist? Does it have a global footprint? Does size matter? We also canvassed opinion on how those who do fit the bill can best position themselves to secure a new business meeting with these brands.
  • Conveying a premium brand image online & offline

    Global sales of luxury goods reportedly rose by 2% to £160bn last year, however slowing growth in China has prompted many to question whether they’re doing enough to maintain the industry’s trajectory. Branded stores still lead the way in terms of sales in the sector, and luxury brand houses, as well as “affordable luxury” brands, are expected to ramp up efforts to drive digital sales. This week, we spoke to marketers at four premium fashion and household brands to explore their online and offline strategies.
  • SEO priorities in the wake of Mobilegeddon

    Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update earlier this year was expected to have a bigger impact than Panda or Penguin. While “Mobilegeddon” may have been something of an anticlimax for many digital marketing experts who’d been working day and night to stop their SEO rankings imploding, no-one would disagree that there’ll be longer-term rewards for those brands who can ensure their mobile and desktop sites are one step ahead when it comes to search.
  • The role of video in internal & external brand building

    A recent study of video ad viewability by Google found that almost half of all video ads outside of YouTube aren’t seen by users, while viewability rates were found to be much higher on mobile and tablet devices than on desktop computers. Based on guidelines by the Media Rating Council, to be “viewable”, an ad’s pixels must be visible onscreen for at least two consecutive seconds – with many users abandoning the ad sooner than this. This week, we took the opportunity to speak to decision-makers at four major brands to explore their approaches to video production for advertising, internal comms and online engagement.
  • Differentiating on the high street through the in-store experience

    Retail sales growth is accelerating according to the latest figures from the CBI, with consumers flocking back to the high street – a trend that’s likely to be spurred on by low inflation boosting household income for the rest of the year. In the month that consumer watchdog Which? conducted its annual retailer survey, naming Lush as the best high street brand for the second year in a row, we took the opportunity to speak to four retailers for insights into their store design strategies.
  • Internal comms priorities for the UK’s biggest companies

    Internal comms agencies have long crowed about the link between an engaged workforce and business performance. While this is hard to argue against, the body of research supporting this notion has increased of late – a recent study by management consultancy Hay Group suggested that 43% of businesses are being held back by not communicating with staff openly and honestly.
  • Marketing to an ageing population

    According to Age UK, there are now more people in the UK aged 60+ than there are under 18. Ofcom’s latest research has shown a surge in social media usage among 55-64 year olds, but slower adoption of internet usage among those aged 65+. This week, we wanted to explore how brands with an older target audience are adapting their strategies to suit the needs of an ageing population.
  • Social media compliance in the financial services sector

    The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently published its guidance for social media usage in the financial services sector, to help companies ensure they’re complying with regulatory guidelines in their online promotions and communications. We spoke to four financial services brands to discuss their plans for social in light of the move, and to understand the role of these platforms for brand building, customer service and the sharing of thought leadership content.
  • Using social media and content marketing to drive travel bookings

    Earlier this month, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit took place in Madrid, where industry leaders discussed the international issues facing the sector, including how people are booking travel packages in an increasingly connected world. We took the opportunity to speak to decision-makers at four brands within the industry, specifically to explore the challenges and trends associated with social media and content marketing.
  • Britain’s most profitable private businesses

    10 days ago, The Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100 league table 2015 was published, ranking Britain’s 100 most profitable private companies over the last three years. We took the opportunity to speak to decision-makers at three brands on the list, as well as one on this year’s “Fast Track” rankings, to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by this business success. We were looking to understand how they’re looking to capitalise on this recent success, establish their positions as market leaders, and the role agencies will play in this process.
  • Packaging design trends and challenges

    Between the big four supermarkets, their discount challengers, the growing popularity of online grocery shopping and smaller format stores popping up on every high street, there’s an ever-growing range of shopping options available to today’s consumer. With more choice available to shoppers, brands are facing new challenges and even greater competition. This week, we spoke to five FMCG brands across the food, drinks and household categories to explore how changing shopping habits are influencing pack design strategy, and the role played by agencies in design and branding.
  • PR, branding and digital priorities for airlines

    In a highly competitive global market, where costs are rising and carriers are vying for market share, airlines need to keep innovating not only in terms of their product offering, but in how they communicate with consumers. This week, we took the opportunity to speak with decision-makers at four airlines to understand the messages they’re looking to communicate to business and leisure travellers, and the role played by agencies in doing so.
  • Engaging corporate & consumer audiences through events & experiential

    We have observed a sharp uptick in the number of brands allocating budgets to experiential and events in recent months, and despite challenges concerning measurability, it appears more important than ever for marketers to build a direct, face-to-face connection with both consumer and corporate audiences. This week, we spoke to marketers at four brands which incorporate events and experiential activity into their marketing plans, or are thinking of doing so. We wanted to understand the role of agencies in creating impactful brand experiences and ensuring they have an eye-catching events presence.
  • Winning research & insights projects with the UK’s biggest consumer brands

    Obviously, the most lucrative accounts for market research/insights agencies can also be the toughest nuts to crack. When big brands are locked into long-term partnerships with incumbents, the trick can often be to pitch for ad hoc project work and subsequently develop the account into something more exciting. But how do you get a foot in the door? This week, we took the opportunity to speak with four market research/insights decision-makers at some of the UK’s biggest brands.
  • How have marcoms teams in the UK property industry reacted to Wednesday’s Budget?

    George Osborne’s pre-election Budget delivered another package of measures aimed at the UK property industry. Alongside the headline-grabbing “Help to Buy ISA”, red tape is being cut on the development of brownfield sites, while the London mayor will receive new powers to speed up housebuilding. To understand how these measures will impact the future of the residential and commercial property sectors, Pearlfinders spoke to four marcoms contacts working in the industry.
  • What does “innovation” mean to B2B marketers?

    This week, we took the opportunity to speak to five decision-makers charged with building their brands among B2B stakeholders. We discussed how they’re conveying a sense of innovation through branding, how they’re positioning themselves in their respective markets, and how they’re optimising the marcoms mix through traditional, content and digital channels.
  • Ecommerce challenges, trends & influences

    The British Retail Consortium reported double-digit ecommerce growth for retailers in January, while trade association IMRG has claimed that more than 40% of ecommerce sales are now from mobile. This week, we took the opportunity to speak to five ecommerce decision-makers across the retail, FMCG and online gaming sectors. We explored the trends and challenges that are front of mind for these brands, how they are taking learnings from other sectors when it comes to personalising the user experience, and their approach to improving conversion rates.
  • Engaging health-conscious shoppers

    Research suggests that people are increasingly prepared to pay a premium for healthier food products. We took the opportunity to speak to decision-makers at five FMCG brands to explore how they’re communicating with an increasingly health-conscious audience, both online and offline. We wanted to understand who they’re looking to reach, the messages they’re aiming to get across, and the role played by agencies in conveying their brand values through advertising, packaging, experiential and digital.
  • Incentivising brand loyalty with exclusive rewards

    This week, we spoke to decision-makers at five brands across the travel, media, retail and motor sectors to explore the trends and challenges within loyalty marketing. We wanted to find out how these brands are using incentives to attract and reward customers, and discussed the types of reward that are most effective in ensuring their customers remain brand loyal. Of course, we also wanted to understand the role played by agencies in creating and implementing these schemes.
  • Agency procurement for the UK’s biggest marketing spenders

    For agencies prospecting the biggest marketing spenders, it’s vital to understand the decision-making pathways involved in the procurement process. This week we took the opportunity to speak to decision-makers at five major brands for insights on the more practical side of prospecting; how to ensure you’re getting on-side with the procurement team, how to utilise social media to your advantage, and which events to attend to gain face time with these decision-makers.
  • Engaging youth audiences

    For retail and entertainment brands, engaging youth audiences is an ongoing priority. This week, we spoke to five major UK marketing spenders to explore the challenge of building brands that appeal to tech-savvy teens and millennials. We wanted to understand how these brands are approaching social media, influencer marketing and market research to effectively reach these groups.
  • Measuring PR success for major consumer brands

    Our conversations with PR decision-makers in 2014 revealed that of the brands we spoke to, more than 2,500 were planning to increase their investment in PR in 2015. Of course, these decision-makers will expect to see a measurable return on this investment, so we took the opportunity to explore the PR measurement tools employed by some of the UK’s biggest marcoms spenders. We wanted to explore what KPIs these decision-makers are using to evaluate the success of their campaigns, and how agencies can present their creds to show a track record of ROI.
  • Events innovation for the world’s biggest tech & telecoms brands

    For brands within the IT and Telecoms sectors, events provide all-important opportunities for networking, stakeholder engagement and building brand awareness. This week, we spoke to events decision-makers at five of the biggest spenders in these industries, to understand their plans for stand design, tech integration, data capture and digital marketing at this year’s events. As always, we also aimed to find out how agencies can best position themselves to win work with these tech giants.
  • The Pearlfinders Global Index 2015

    Which sectors will be investing more in marketing services in 2015? What skills and agency capabilities are CMOs craving but the market isn’t delivering? Which audience groups are brands actually looking to reach? At Pearlfinders we look to answer these questions brand-by-brand, one interview at a time.
  • What are the UK’s biggest advertisers prioritising in 2015?

    With 2015 already being defined by falling oil prices, the upcoming general election and ongoing geopolitical tensions, the UK’s biggest advertisers are working hard to establish what messaging and creative concepts will resonate best with their audiences. We spoke to four of the UK’s largest advertising spenders – in terms of media space purchased – to establish what themes they will be prioritising this year, how the agency landscape is changing, and which particular audience groups they’re looking to reach.
  • Design and content marketing plans for UK recruitment firms

    According to The Institute of Leadership & Management, around a third of UK workers are planning a job move in 2015. The good news for them is that The Confederation of British Industry has reported that half of British businesses plan to take on extra workers this year. With a more positive outlook for the UK jobs market, we took the opportunity to connect with decision-makers at five UK recruitment companies, to discuss the role that design and branding will play in helping them attract clients and candidates over the coming year.
  • Britain’s fastest growing private companies 2014

    Earlier this month, 2014’s Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 league table was published, ranking Britain's 100 fastest growing private companies based on sales over the last three years. We took the opportunity to speak to decision-makers at five of the companies featured on this year’s list, to get an idea of the challenges and opportunities presented by their rapid growth. We wanted to understand how they are looking to differentiate as challengers and market leaders within their sectors, and the role agencies will play in sustaining their expansion in 2015 and beyond.
  • The impact of stamp duty reform on UK housebuilders

    In his recent Autumn Statement, George Osborne announced that stamp duty will be cut for 98% of homebuyers, introducing a graduated rate for the majority of homebuyers, and an increase for those purchasing properties worth more than £1m. We took the opportunity to speak to five of the UK’s largest housebuilders, to understand what the implications of the reform will be from a marketing perspective. More generally, we wanted to understand the wider trends within the industry, how they approach branding for new developments, how the balance of digital and print is changing, and the role agencies will play moving into 2015.
  • 2015 plans for Britain’s growing tech innovators

    In November, Santander, Telefonica and Mastercard invested £49m in British tech startup Monitise, while Cambridge-based firm AlertMe, whose technology allows users to monitor and control their home energy usage, has been recognised for its rapid growth, ranking #13 on Deloitte’s UK Fast 50 list. We took the opportunity to speak to decision-makers at these burgeoning tech firms, along with two other home-grown brands innovating in the online space: MyOwnEstateAgent.com and Money.co.uk. We wanted to understand the marcoms priorities of these tech pioneers for 2015, and the role agencies will play in underpinning their rapid growth trajectories.
  • Activation plans for next season’s F1 sponsors

    Last Sunday’s season finale saw the F1 Driver’s Championship return to British soil, with Lewis Hamilton racing to victory in Abu Dhabi. F1 has not been free from controversy this year, however the sport remains one of the world’s top sponsorship options for brands looking to build their profile among global B2B and B2C audiences. With a four month break until next season’s “lights out” in Melbourne, we took the opportunity to speak with five F1 sponsors about how they’re planning to activate their partnerships next year.
  • Effectively marketing your agency to the finance, FMCG, retail and professional services sectors

    As a business developer at an agency, you face myriad options when it comes to promoting your services. To what extent do you invest in thought leadership? How do you share this with marketers? Who do you send to the pitches, and assign to the account team? To garner opinion on the practical advice senior UK marketers have for agencies looking to cut through the noise, we spoke to decision-makers at five major brands.
  • Working with the world’s foremost luxury brands

    Global demand, particularly from emerging markets such as China, has fuelled growth for the world’s top luxury brands in recent years. From top-of-the-range fashion to yachts and high-end sports cars, these “superbrands” are going from strength to strength. For agencies, winning work with a luxury brand can prove a seminal moment in their development; having such a brand on your client list can undoubtedly boost growth and act as a catalyst for winning new business. But how do you go about prospecting these high-end market leaders? We interviewed five major luxury brands to find out.
  • Future student recruitment challenges for UK universities

    It’s almost a year since George Osborne announced plans to abolish the cap on the number of students that can be admitted to UK universities. For marketing departments in the UK Higher Education sector, these reforms, when implemented, will have huge potential implications on student recruitment – how can they attract new student populations on a global scale? At what level do they set entry standards to ensure strong results are maintained? We interviewed five UK universities about how they’re currently approaching student recruitment marketing, how this will change moving into 2015, and how agencies can win work to support these aims.
  • Reputation management and corporate comms in the UK retail sector

    Tesco’s plummeting share price and the recent “kiss-in” staged at a Sainsbury’s in Brighton are stark reminders of the challenges faced by corporate comms teams at the country’s largest retailers. In the run-up to the crucial Christmas shopping period, Pearlfinders spoke to five of the country’s best-known retailers to understand how they’re investing in comms outreach, brand development, CSR strategy and crisis management, and the associated opportunities for agencies to win new projects.
  • Winning business in the UK automotive sector

    We all know that automotive brands can be dream clients for agencies. Wieden+Kennedy’s European business was built on the agency’s creative work for Honda, while Fallon’s UK creative for Skoda paved the way to it winning a pan-European pitch earlier this year. Large car marques are regularly featured in Pearlfinders Marketing, so this week we spoke to two mid-sized British auto manufacturers, as well as three brands involved in the servicing/supply/retail of cars, to understand where the industry’s going and what the agency world can be doing to win more work with these brands.
  • Managing production & media buys at the UK’s biggest marketing spenders

    The recession, more frequent reviews and a penchant for project-based relationships with agencies have created a perfect storm for those pitching tools to marketing departments wanting to optimise efficiencies in the production and media buying processes. To understand the opportunities for technologists and agencies in this fast-moving landscape, we spoke to decision-makers at four major marketing spenders.
  • Made in Britain

    Recent research commissioned by Barclays found that advertising products as “Made in Britain” could potentially add over £2bn to the UK economy. Two years on from London 2012, in the wake of the Scottish Independence referendum, we spoke to marketers at five quintessentially British brands to map out their plans for the future and specifically, how they plan to leverage this message in their marketing communications.
  • Ethical brands

    Ethical marketing is back in force this year, with Sustainable September, Co-Op’s “For All the Right Reasons” campaign, and global names like Unilever and H&M committing to climate change reporting as a matter of fiduciary duty. But how is this increasingly saturated market evolving? We asked five brands across beauty and fashion, as well as the world’s most ethical water company what new trends they’re seeing, how customer expectations are changing and what role agencies might play in helping them stand out.
  • London Fashion Week spring/summer 2015

    This year’s spring/summer London Fashion Week was arguably as notable for brands’ use of technology and marketing innovation as for the clothes and designers themselves. Over 60% of brands live streamed shows this year, while trailblazers such as Burberry fully embraced wearable tech, embedding chips in garments. We took the opportunity to interview marketers at four fashion brands to find out what they learned from this year’s events, and where they see opportunities for innovation and investment in new technology to help them join up social, ecommerce, experiential and promotional activity.
  • Winning pack design projects with female-oriented household and FMCG brands

    Research has long suggested that women make or influence well over 50% of consumer purchases, particularly in the food, beverage and household product categories. This week, Pearlfinders interviewed five household goods and FMCG businesses battling to influence consumer behaviour at the point of purchase through pack design innovation. From the world’s third largest consumer goods company to a fast-growing natural skincare business, we wanted to help agencies understand how best to approach relationship building with marketing teams and procurement functions involved in this lucrative segment.
  • Mobile payments in the retail sector

    One of the big themes of Apple’s product launch on Tuesday was Apple Pay, which will be included on the new iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and Apple Watch enabling users to pay for goods with their devices in high street stores and supermarkets. We took this opportunity to interview digital and ecommerce decision-makers at major retailers to uncover how they see this new technology influencing their evolving mobile payment strategies. What opportunities and potential challenges will they be looking to address moving into 2015?
  • Rebranding the energy sector

    The energy sector is often painted in the press as the “bad guy” for increasing bills, and we know from our conversations with major players in the industry such as EDF that brand marketing teams are working hard to combat this. This week we’ve spoken to others in the sector, from challengers trying to break their competitors’ strangleholds to constituents of the “Big Six” energy suppliers, to find out what their next steps are, what overarching messages they are looking to convey and where external expertise might be sought.
  • Corporate reputation in the FTSE 350

    As corporate marcoms shift from didactic top line messages and branding to a two-way conversation with internal and external stakeholders, there are opportunities for consultancies and agencies to offer guidance and support. This week, we’ve looked at how FTSE 350 companies are structuring – or in some cases restructuring - their communications function to improve the way they manage corporate reputation. Who is driving the decisions and where are these companies looking to go next?
  • Professional Membership Organisations

    Despite often having a huge membership base and an even larger audience of stakeholders to engage with, professional bodies have been slow to fully harness the potential of digital. There is a lingering perception that such organisations are somewhat old-fashioned in this area, but change is afoot. From enhancing the services offered via their website to developing more sophisticated and effective email and social media communications, the opportunity for agencies to assist is considerable. This week Pearlfinders has spoken to marketing decision-makers at a number of professional membership organisations to understand how they are looking to address this, map out their challenges, and establish what areas they will be investing in next.
  • Automation

    From data collection and content delivery, to real time advertising and media buying, marketers are increasingly looking for ways to automate and fine-tune their campaigns. Brands’ familiarity with the simple interfaces of Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook’s advertising solutions is fuelling a greater appetite for usability and transparency.
  • Direct marketing trends

    From acquiring new customers to upselling existing ones, direct marketing has historically been viewed by brands as a relatively low cost, high impact tool. But as consumers become more demanding in terms of their privacy, using tools such as Unroll.Me to whittle down the contact they receive from brands, how are marketers adapting their strategy? And, as more sophisticated CRM, email and content delivery platforms are implemented, how are the objectives of direct communications with customers changing?
  • Social search

    As the nuances of this summer’s Google Panda 4.0 update continue to be mapped out, many in the industry have bumped social search up the priority list, prompting a Guardian piece this week and plenty of debate over how best to resource this area. The tug of war between PR, digital and content production specialists will continue for many years to come, with no two decision-makers taking the exact same view, but on a practical level, agencies need to continue to secure projects and retain existing clients.
  • Winning work with the UK's largest alcohol brands

    Last year’s hot summer, coupled with successful product innovations and brand extensions, contributed to significant growth in sales in the alcoholic beverages sector (around 5%), growth which looks set to continue for the most innovative and effectively positioned brands. For this week’s briefing we’ve spoken to four of the largest alcoholic drinks groups to find out what they are planning for 2015, which audiences are a focus, what they are looking to say about their brands, and as always, what role agencies have to play in this process.
  • Engaging trade & consumer audiences in the home improvement market

    In a booming UK housing market, analysts expect to see a knock-on effect on the DIY market, with many customers preferring to carry out home improvement projects themselves. We wanted to explore the trends and challenges on the minds of marketers in the industry, to understand how they are looking to engage consumers and tradespeople, and how agencies can help.
  • UX and CX in the financial services sector

    In a report published this week, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) points to a dramatic increase in the use of online banking services, describing a “digital banking revolution”. Banks and financial services providers like HSBC – which has announced the closing of 19 branches – are shifting budgets to mobile and web channels, but are they improving UX and CX rapidly enough to meet expectations?
  • Events innovation for marketing commercial vehicles

    For this week’s briefing, we wanted to explore how some of the UK’s biggest marketers of commercial vehicles approach events and exhibitions. We were interested to look at how these brands are injecting innovation and creativity into their presence at trade shows, from stand design to data capture and promotional tools. We also wanted to understand the timescales involved in planning for major exhibitions, and the role played by agencies.
  • The future of CSR

    Major companies are undoubtedly investing more than ever before when it comes to measuring, analysing and managing their brands’ social and environmental impact. Today, CSR has become an integral consideration in corporate decision-making and supplier relationships. This week, we’ve spoken to CSR contacts at four of the UK’s largest companies, to understand their priorities for 2014 and beyond.
  • Brands targeting over 50s

    Over 35% of the UK population is over 50. With a greater disposable income and more purchasing power than any other age group - and higher expectations in terms of service and product quality – it can be the most challenging and commercially significant segment for brands to get to grips with. Many are reluctant to consider any campaign that might jeopardise their youth appeal, while others communicate with “grey” customers in a way that actually alienates this increasingly tech-savvy, style-conscious audience.
  • Management Consultancies

    According to the latest report from the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) released this week, the UK management consultancy sector has grown at its fastest rate since 2007. Powered in part by the growth of the UK tech sector and the British economy’s return to growth, consultants are broadening their service offering and becoming more sophisticated in their own marketing efforts.
  • Marketing to millennials

    Many have tried, with varying degrees of success, to profile the characteristics of the millennial generation, i.e. those born between the 1980s and the year 2000. For brands, this represents a hugely attractive chunk of the UK population, but also a challenging one for advertisers as they wrestle with short attention spans and a nosebleed-inducing rate of innovation in the social and digital world.
  • The 2015 General Election

    On May 7 David Cameron tweeted that it was precisely one year until the next general election, a starting pistol for the race to Number 10 in 2015 and a prompt for the intensification of campaigning and marketing to rally voters, donors and supporters by the various parties. Two weeks on, in the aftermath of UKIP’s self-proclaimed “earthquake” in the European Elections and some wounding losses for the other three parties, we wanted to find out how they are getting their messages out, and what role agencies will have in delivering their campaigns.
  • Vouchers and promotional marketing in the FMCG sector

    On the other side of the Atlantic, the “coupon queen” is a well-established shopper type, but over the last few years in the UK we’ve seen the use of online vouchers, discount codes and e-coupons grow significantly, powered by a growing enthusiasm for discount sites such as Amazon Local, Wowcher, Savoo and VoucherCodes. Specialist deal-spotting message boards and popular sites such as Mumsnet further support this trend, but how are brands capitalising on the shift in behaviour to encourage consumers to choose their products?
  • Digital innovation for local councils

    As local councils pursue a “more for less” approach to communicating with their constituents, there is a growing appetite for digital innovation to help reduce costs, improve service levels and increase engagement. With this in mind, we’ve spoken to four of the larger councils in the UK to ask how online service provision is changing, which channels are receiving greater investment and, as always, what challenges they are looking to overcome.
  • FMCG challenger brands

    Having focused our last two briefings on the largest ad spenders in the UK, this week we have turned our attention to FMCG challenger brands and innovative newcomers to the category. While these brands do not yet have the firepower of a multinational, they do have ambition, as well as unique challenges to overcome in order to build a profile among consumers and investors.
  • Winning work with the top 100 ad spenders in the UK (Part 2)

    Following the popularity of last week’s briefing on winning work with the top 100 ad spenders in the UK, we have spoken to yet more brands on this list. Again, this briefing focuses on navigating their purchasing and procurement structures, to ask how agencies should be adapting their approach to improve their chances of winning work.
  • Winning work with the top 100 ad spenders in the UK (Part 1)

    While brands with the largest budgets for advertising and marketing are highly attractive prospects for most agencies, navigating their purchasing and procurement structures can be daunting. There has been a major cultural shift internally at brands to promote the role of procurement, which has been further fuelled by the economic downturn and improvements in the techniques and information available to procurement professionals. For this week’s briefing, we have spoken to marketing procurement decision-makers at several of the top 100 ad spenders in the UK, to ask how agencies should be adapting their approach to improve their chances of winning work.
  • Marketing challenges in the legal services sector

    The Legal Services Act of October 2011 opened the door for companies that are not law firms to offer legal services, increasing competition and driving a modernisation of the sales and marketing functions of many long established players in the sector. With the likes of PwC now aiming to be a top 20 legal services provider globally, Pearlfinders spoke to four of the UK’s largest law firms to ask what they see as their key marketing challenges at this stage, and how agencies should be adapting their offer to reflect the needs of marketers in the legal sector.
  • Marketing medical devices

    It seems like each new week brings news of further pressure on the NHS to reduce costs and drive efficiency, and yet the sales and profits for manufacturers and distributors of medical instruments are in rude heath. More than half of firms increased their sales in 2013, a very similar percentage to respondents reporting sales increases for 2012. For this week’s briefing, we have interviewed marketers at some of the largest global brands in the sector to discuss the direction their marketing strategy is heading in, the challenges they are facing and how they are differentiating their brand in this climate of NHS cost cutting.
  • Marketing ISAs

    Following the surprise announcement in last week’s Budget that the annual contribution limit for ISAs is going up to £15,000 and individuals will be able to have any combination of stocks, shares and cash, there is a huge opportunity for banks and investment platforms to develop and market new products and services. We wanted to catch marketers at this crucial point, as they look to make sense of the government’s proposals and begin to plan their strategies ahead of the July 1 launch date. We wanted to find out which channels they will be using and where they are looking to position their brand within this rapidly changing space.
  • Product placement in film

    Brands’ desire to weave themselves into the fabric of popular cinema is as old as the film industry itself. Clumsy efforts irritate cinema-goers and marketers alike, while well planned and executed placements such as Guinness in the Oscar-nominated Philomena are something most brands aspire to. For our latest briefing, we spoke to brands that have recently featured in Hollywood films to find out how these partnerships are forged, what they are looking to achieve from them, and what role agencies have in strategising and activating film partnerships.
  • Driving trial in the FMCG food sector

    This week, we’ve spoken to four snack brands about their current challenges and priorities in encouraging customers to try their products. From promotions and partnerships to sampling and experiential initiatives, we’ve mapped out these brands’ forthcoming objectives and what external support they will require to deliver on them.
  • Customer Experience Trends in Utilities and Telecoms

    From the marketing team to the contact centre operation and IT department, utilities and telecoms brands are investing more than ever to try and ensure a positive experience throughout the customer lifecycle. The rationale for this is simple: consumers who receive a positive experience at each touchpoint will be more loyal consumers, leading to increased profits. But newly-established Customer Experience teams are inheriting disparate sets of data and methodologies – spanning multiple departments. So what can agencies do to support UK blue-chips in their quest to improve the customer experience?
  • Innovation in the alcoholic drinks sector

    Of the £99m increase in total UK sales of alcoholic drinks in 2013, £64.6m came from new products and brand extensions. This week Pearlfinders spoke to beer brands of all sizes to hear their thoughts on product innovation and emerging consumer trends.
  • UX design in the financial services sector

    According to The Office for National Statistics just over 50% of those with internet access in the UK do at least some of their banking online. Above all, consumers seek simplicity and convenience in this area, and brands that deliver on this will reap the rewards – particularly as regularly switching banks has become commonplace. This week’s briefing focuses on website usability in the financial services sector. We’ve interviewed marketers at four leading banks and insurance brands to understand what they are looking to improve about their sites, what trends they are seeing, and what expertise they feel will be required to achieve this from their agency partners.
  • Are budgets returning to experiential in the retail sector?

    While the Olympics was a huge payday for a select few in the experiential world, the fact many brands kept their powder dry for the duration of 2012 made it tough for the industry. The global recession further impacted budgets, bringing to an end a period of huge innovation and growth in events and experiential between 2008- 2011. Since the start of this year there has been a sense that budgets are thawing once more and experiential agencies could be major beneficiaries. But how have expectations changed in this time?
  • Marketing tactics in the cosmetic surgery industry

    According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS ) there were 50,122 surgical procedures performed in 2013 – an increase of 17% since 2012. The UK is expected to be spending £3.6bn per year on cosmetic procedures by 2015, but how much are the businesses behind this phenomenal growth spending on marketing and PR? This week, Pearlfinders interviewed marketing budget-holders at cosmetic surgery brands to find out what they are looking to achieve.
  • Brands still planning for Brazil 2014

    With just five months to go until the World Cup in Brazil this year, you’d be forgiven for thinking any brands involved will be in the advanced stages of executing campaigns, with little scope for further agency involvement. While of course plans are well advanced for many of the global sponsors, we have been surprised to discover how many marketers are still wrestling with challenges. In addition, for a global event of this magnitude there are many other brands keen to harness the World Cup in their own marcoms plan this year, that are open to suggestions on how to do so – not least the sponsors of the England Team.
  • UK Charities changing tactics

    The last few years have been particularly tough on the third sector, with budgets cut and many charities forced to put marketing plans on ice. However, as the UK returns to growth this year, many are keen to update their strategies and in some cases branding to reflect changes in the fundraising landscape. We spoke to marketers at five charities to find out what they are looking to achieve this year, and what they see as their main challenges.
  • The Pearlfinders Global Index 2013-14

    The Pearlfinders Global Index aggregates sentiments and buying intentions of budget-holders for all marketing disciplines and in every major sector, from the 14,000+ annual interviews we now conduct across Europe, USA and Asia.
  • London Fashion Week sponsorship

    London Fashion Week attracted more sponsorship that ever this year, and the organisers are looking to build its profile globally, leveraging digital technology to make content from its shows available to all. With LFW Spring/Summer 2014 less than a month away, Pearlfinders spoke to the British Fashion Council and several brands sponsoring the event to identify what they are looking to achieve, and how they will be using the platform to grow their own brand globally in 2014.
  • Emerging trends in the restaurant sector

    Worth over £40bn, the diverse UK restaurant sector has proven it has the resilience and capacity for innovation to keep diners spending money through the recession. Culturally, the last few years have seen a huge change in consumer tastes, expectations and habits when it comes to eating out. We spoke to senior marketers at four mainstream UK restaurant brands as they look to the year ahead, to identify what they see as the key challenges, trends and marketing channels for increased investment.
  • Marketing innovation in the online gambling industry

    Online gambling and gaming is now firmly in the mainstream, with marketing budgets on the rise along with innovation and competition between challengers and established names. While online gambling was once solely the domain of committed sports betting fans, there’s now a more diverse product offering available that’s attracting a broader audience.
  • The evolving role of procurement in agency decision-making

    While agencies’ ability to effectively engage with procurement departments has improved in recent years, it’s never an easy job to adapt a pitch you’ve carefully crafted for a Marketing Director so that it resonates with a procurement professional. This week, Pearlfinders spoke to four marketing services procurement decision-makers at some of the UK’s leading brands, to understand how the role of purchasing is changing, and how agencies need to modify their approach to new business to have the best chance of securing new clients.
  • Activation of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games sponsorship

    The 2014 Commonwealth Games will be held in Glasgow next July, showcasing some of the world’s greatest athletes. Sponsors of the Games are naturally keen to make the most of this major marketing opportunity, and capitalise on the public’s taste for British sport following London 2012, however challenges remain; a recent report by YouGov showed that nearly three-quarters of Scottish consumers couldn’t identify a single sponsor of the event. We wanted to speak to some of the event’s key sponsors to find out how they’re leveraging their partnerships, and the role being played by agencies.
  • Screen media in the retail sector

    The technology may have been around for some years, but in-store screen media has really come of age in 2013. As brands look to emulate the success of trailblazers like Burberry while sidestepping the wrath of privacy campaigners most recently concerned with Tesco’s use of facial recognition software, the opportunity for agencies that understand omnichannel and screen media is huge.
  • Membership cards in the entertainment sector

    In recent years, consumer appetite for discounts, deals, and loyalty schemes has been steadily growing. While interest in the likes of Groupon may have peaked, paid-for membership cards for both individual destinations and multiple brands have continued to grow in popularity, as brands look to deepen engagement with their best customers, and savvy consumers look to save money on regular entertainment.
  • Digital marketing in the automotive sector

    2013 is proving to be a big year for digital marketing in the automotive sector. It’s predicted that 2.2m new cars will be sold in the UK in 2013, up 8.8% on 2012, and car brands are jostling for position as the most technologically innovative. We took the opportunity to speak to marketers at four car brands to explore their priorities in web design, mobile and social media.
  • Seasonal PR for alcoholic drinks brands

    This quarter, in the run-up to the festive period, is the strongest for wine, beer and spirits brands. As brands deploy this year's campaigns, we wanted to gain insight into their key challenges and objectives. What will they be doing to maximise coverage and get the most value from their campaigns?
  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q3 2013

    The full data from Q3 2013 - Pearlfinders tracks decision-maker sentiment to gauge the buoyancy of each area of marketing.
  • Marketing electronic cigarettes

    Tobacco companies have reportedly spent over £11.5m marketing 'smoking deterrent products' this year in the UK alone - including e-cigarettes and nicotine patches - beating last year's £13.6m record. As the EU considers whether electronic cigarettes should become classified as a medical product and the UK prepares for them to be licensed as medicine from 2016, Pearlfinders wanted to interview the marketers behind some of the leading e-cigarette brands and challengers.
  • Packaging design for retail own-brands

    As own-brand ranges account for more and more of consumers’ grocery and household goods spend, innovation and competition is intense. Shoppers are increasingly keen to save money, acting as a catalyst for this trend. Focusing on packaging design and branding, Pearlfinders has spoken to retailers to discuss plans for their own-brand ranges, the challenges they face, and what agencies need to understand to win more own-brand work.
  • Graduating to the FTSE 100

    Last week, the latest revisions to the FTSE 100 came into effect, with three companies joining the index. Six companies were placed on the reserve list, to join in the event of a corporate action occurring before the next review in December such as a merger, acquisition, delisting or suspension.
  • Market research in the retail sector

    The retail sector has shown some promising signs of late, with strong high street sales during the July heatwave, and online sales up 18% in August. For this week’s briefing, we wanted to find out how marketers are adapting to changing consumer habits post-downturn. Specifically, we wanted to find out what insight they are seeking moving forwards, and what market research techniques they think are most useful.
  • Marketing trends for personal fitness brands

    Around one in six UK adults regularly attends a gym or fitness club, and while obesity levels are also rising, interest in health and fitness becomes greater and more sophisticated each year. We wanted to speak to major players in the gym and fitness industry to understand how they are developing branding, services and strategy to attract, retain and develop customers.
  • SEO in the travel sector

    78% of all holidays booked in the UK last year were booked online - a 47% increase from 2008. With summer holidays coming to an end, many of those going back to work will be starting to plan new trips, and travel brands will be fine tuning their SEO strategies to capitalise on this.
  • B2B relationships in the telecoms sector

    This week we took a closer look at marketing and PR in the thriving UK telecoms sector. In particular, we wanted to gain a better understanding of the tools utilised by B2B brands, and how they are looking to forge new and deeper relationships with clients.
  • Marketing and PR in the UK’s Cleantech Sector

    Much has been written about the UK’s opportunity to carve a niche as a “low-carbon economy”. Driven by regional centres of innovation such as Cambridge’s “Silicon Fen”, the country’s leading innovators are aiming to capitalise on this – a recent study suggested that the UK currently ranks fourth in global cleantech innovation (behind France, Japan and China), although this is down a place on last year.
  • Digital marketing in the retail sector

    This week we took the opportunity to speak to four retailers at which ecommerce plays an integral role, to gain insights on their approach to web design, mobile, search and social media. We were interested to understand these brands’ priorities and challenges; how web activity is being tracked and improved, what the likely areas of spend will be going forward, and digital decision-makers’ agency preferences.
  • Helping Law firms find their voice

    As established law firms come under increased competition from challengers, and continue to wrestle with translating often hundreds of years of history and reputation into modern online content, finding the right voice, tone and way to tell their story can be a struggle.
  • Brands targeting new parents

    Following the birth of HRH Prince George of Cambridge last week, brands targeting new parents will undoubtedly enjoy a higher profile over the next few months. According to Mintel’s latest report on the topic, the UK baby food, drink and milk market recorded a 53% leap in value sales between 2007 and 2012 to reach £617m, up from £403m in 2007.
  • Winning work in the arts sector

    Arguably, nowhere is competition for work more intense than in the arts sector. It may not always be where the largest budgets can be found, but arts clients offer scope for greater exposure for an agency and rewarding projects. Aside from fierce competition, the other obstacle to winning work is the fact that major projects may need to be tendered, leaving new business teams wondering how to get on the shortlist with these organisations and ultimately win work.
  • Rebrands revisited – catching up with the class of 2010

    No matter where your agency specialism lies, there are always projects to be won in relation to a major rebrand. From design, strategy and concept through to execution, multichannel implementation and comms to stakeholders, new business professionals should take every opportunity to get their agency involved as early as possible.
  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q2 2013

    The full data from Q2 2013 - Pearlfinders tracks decision-maker sentiment to gauge the buoyancy of each area of marketing.
  • Experiential marketing for soft drinks brands

    With summer finally upon us, we took the opportunity to speak to marketers at some of the UK’s biggest soft drinks brands to discuss their approaches to experiential marketing. We wanted to find out what these brands aim to achieve through sponsorship and events, and the role agencies play in implementing these campaigns.
  • Watch brands - balancing traditional and digital channels

    With the development of “smart watches” from the likes of Sony and Samsung, and Apple’s trademarking of the term “iWatch”, luxury watch brands can expect a new wave of competition. Analysts have predicted that the global watch market will maintain growth, with sales expected to increase another 30% by 2017.
  • CRM and loyalty marketing at UK travel brands

    A recent study revealed that almost two-thirds of UK consumers are planning to increase their spending on holidays once the British economy stabilises into a period of steady growth. In order to capitalise on this, travel brands need to ensure they’re maintaining investment in marketing to existing customers, building loyalty and driving retention and development of customer relationships for when spending on travel increases.
  • Consumer Technology – market research, shopper marketing and insight

    Consumer technology brands live and die by their ability to innovate and respond to changing trends in entertainment and lifestyle. The loss of some notable high street retailers, and the mass adoption of smartphones as an entertainment hub have changed the marketing landscape for many in the sector – how are they adapting?
  • How can banks engage young people?

    From attracting the best staff to engaging with potential lifelong customers from an early age, it has always been important for banks and building societies to appeal to young people. Recent scandals in the sector have done a great deal to compromise banks’ reputations, meaning these brands need to work harder to win the trust of younger audiences. Branding, advertising, PR, research, CRM and social initiatives all come into this process.
  • What’s next for the leading social brands?

    As certain elements of social media strategy and execution are increasingly brought in-house, and more and more agencies claim to be able to help brands with social, it’s becoming harder to achieve cut-through with marketing budget holders. Pearlfinders wanted to get a better understanding of where the opportunities lie in this area, and what talking points are likely to be most effective when approaching brand-side marketers.
  • Trends in property PR

    As the media consumption habits of their key stakeholders and clients fragment and migrate online, property companies are reviewing how these audiences can be most effectively engaged across all channels of influence. Stakeholder and community relations via social and digital media need to be considered, along with traditional press coverage, lobbying, media relations, events such as topping out ceremonies and openings, CSR and PR to attract investment.
  • Design and branding for healthy food brands

    One of the fastest growing, most buoyant and innovative segments in the FMCG sector is health food brands. Recent years have seen the likes of Innocent and Dorset Cereals become firmly established as shopping basket mainstays, as Kraft, Coca-Cola et al have flooded the market more and more with their own healthy products. The market is maturing and crowded with alternatives, and yet from start-ups to global giants we continue to see new additions.
  • Mobile strategy in the restaurant and casual dining sector

    When deciding where to eat, customers are increasingly likely to first consult one of the many recommendation apps on their smartphones such as toptable, TripAdvisor or Urbanspoon. Restaurants are therefore keen to ensure their mobile strategy is as effective as possible.
  • A seamless customer experience – ecommerce for apparel brands

    Parts of the apparel sector have been slow to commit resources to online activity, particularly to ecommerce, due to the concern that the online shopping experience won’t match the high standards of service and brand experience found in-store. But as the likes of ASOS, NET-A-PORTER and Boohoo have made customers comfortable doing much of their shopping online, other brands need to catch up or miss out.
  • Marketing children’s products in 2013

    Analysts have expressed the opinion that while demand for traditional toys may be stagnating, they should now be viewed as part of the broader “play” industry including video games and apps, which are seeing phenomenal growth due to families’ enthusiasm for tablets and smartphones. Children’s brands are increasingly treading a fine line with their online marketing - where does the product end and entertaining content begin?
  • New approaches to digital in the automotive sector

    Global automotive brands have a huge and ever growing demand for digital services. Due to the highly specialised expertise required to create and execute campaigns and content across web, social and mobile platforms, managing supplier numbers, costs and performance is an ongoing challenge for marketing budget holders in the sector.
  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q1 2013

    The full data from Q1 2013 - Pearlfinders tracks decision-maker sentiment to gauge the buoyancy of each area of marketing.
  • The digital strategy of Asset Management firms

    Typically traditional in their activity online, asset management firms increasingly need to consider the place of digital in their marketing strategy. While networking, outdoor advertising, print and events all remain relevant to these brands, the behaviour and expectations of both professionals and high net-worth individuals they are seeking to attract and retain are changing.
  • Branded Content: Food retailers

    Branded content is a huge area of investment and innovation for brands, none more so than food retailers. Once confined to in-store magazines and loyalty newsletters, the range of agencies and brand-side decision-makers involved in implementing and developing content strategy is diversifying rapidly.
  • Brands sponsoring music festivals

    While brands such as O2 and Barclaycard have moved away from traditional music festival sponsorship, and onto standalone initiatives like O2 Priority and Barclaycard Unwind, having a presence at one of the UK's larger music festivals remains a popular choice among consumer brands looking to reach an engaged and relatively affluent audience.
  • Advertising in the retail sector

    With online advertising growing at a significant rate each year in the retail sector, we asked what this means for more traditional advertising channels, such as television and print. Do these still have the same impact for retail brands, or are they shifting their marketing strategies online to engage directly with consumers?
  • The impact of the Retail Distribution Review on financial brands

    The FSA’s Retail Distribution Review (RDR) came into effect on December 31 2012, and applies to all advisors in the retail investment market, including banks, product providers, IFAs, wealth managers and stockbrokers. As part of the new rules, financial advisory firms will have to explicitly disclose and separately charge their clients for their services, describe their services as either independent or restricted, and adhere to consistent professional standards.
  • Market research at FMCG brands

    With an ever-increasing number of new food brands and products on the market, it's clearly an evolving space. As brands jostle for attention on the shelves, marketers recognise the need for a genuine understanding of the consumer and what appeals to them. Whether that's from the perspective of NPD, packaging design or in-store promotions, these decision-makers are increasingly interested in new techniques.
  • PR and events in the broadband market

    With a 5.7% increase in broadband penetration in 2012, compared to the previous year, demand for superfast services is growing. As consumers become more "tech savvy", however, so are their expectations from broadband providers. With innovations in superfast broadband and 4G connections coming to the fore, providers are vying for consumers' attention in an increasingly competitive market.
  • Experiential tactics at car brands

    The automotive industry generates around £50bn in annual turnover for the UK economy, but it also contributes the largest share of exports and helps position British manufacturers on a global stage. As brands look to build engagement with new audiences – as well as loyalty with current customers – marketers cite experiential activity as an integral channel.
  • Corporate branding in the energy sector

    With the energy industries contributing 4.4% to GDP in 2011, it's clearly an important sector in the UK's economy. With an increasing number of new entrants to the market, in the form of renewable energy firms backed by growing investment, standing out and gaining market share is an ongoing challenge for marketers.
  • Grey marketing in the travel industry

    With over a third of the UK population aged over 50, the 'grey' market presents a huge – and growing – pool of potential customers. In particular, the travel sector is well placed to capitalise on this target demographic as semi-retired and retired professionals, often with a higher disposable income, look for holidays that cater for their needs.
  • SEO in the retail industry

    With a growing number of consumers checking products and offers online before making a purchase in-store, marketers must ensure they're visible across multiple touchpoints. The message from digital decision-makers is that search marketing is key, but the challenges are continually evolving.
  • Packaging and design at luxury skincare brands

    With consumers becoming more health-conscious, one category that has seen particular growth is skincare that promises to be natural, detoxifying or anti-ageing. As more niche products enter the market, however, it's increasingly challenging to stand out on-shelf. Marketers must build brand loyalty through a strong brand and packaging that reflects their luxury credentials.
  • Branding in the beer industry

    As cask and premium bottled ales continue to bring new consumers to the category, there are both opportunities and challenges for brands. In order to capitalise on this growth, they need to differentiate from competitors and communicate their USP through branding.
  • Evolving challenges in youth marketing

    With an estimated 20% of the UK population aged under 16, it's a demographic that presents both opportunities and challenges for brands. The rise of digital technologies increasingly creates new touchpoints for marketers, but at the same time, many industries are increasingly regulated.
  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index 2012

    The full data from 2012 - Pearlfinders tracks decision-maker sentiment to gauge the buoyancy of each area of marketing.
  • A view from procurement

    This year the IPA announced new guidelines for the use of procurement-led e-auctions, and there's been criticism that creative skills are increasingly commoditised. We asked procurement decision-makers across commercial and public sectors for their views.
  • Marketing at the UK's fastest-growing brands

    Last week the Sunday Times published its annual Fast Track 100, which ranks the UK's fastest-growing small businesses. These are privately-owned companies with minimum annual sales of £5m, which have shown the greatest rate of growth over three years.
  • Charities look to harness mobile marketing

    Building a mobile presence is fast becoming a priority across all sectors. According to a study by the IAB, 69% of smartphone users feel it's crucial that brands have a mobile-optimised website, while charities in particular have been criticised for lagging behind with digital development.
  • CRM: Consolidating customer data

    CRM is an evolving field, as marketers seek to improve their understanding of consumers and bring data together across platforms. We've found more brands are grappling with the challenge of collating data and successfully applying it to tailored customer comms.
  • Challenger banks

    After another year of bad press for mainstream banks, small to mid-sized financial services companies expected to reap the benefits of an inadvertent marketing campaign - and their own efforts to position as more ethical and customer-led.
  • The structure of e-commerce

    The UK is home to the world’s second-largest e-commerce market, behind the US, according to e-tail trade association IMRG. It predicts that by 2013, global business-to-consumer sales will pass €1 trillion, and the total number of internet users will increase to 3.5 billion from around 2.2 billion at the end of 2011.
  • Nostalgic Marketing

    A return to nostalgic advertising creative, slogans and products has proven an emerging trend, as heritage brands play on their history to strengthen consumer appeal. Nostalgic marketing is one way to reignite emotions in tough economic times, with the explosion of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” message serving as a prolific example.
  • FMCG challengers: Small food brands seek visibility

    While global FMCG giants and own-label goods tend to dominate grocery sales, the increasing diversity of consumer tastes is opening the door for a range of new food products. Speaking to six FMCG brands, we uncovered several opportunities for small agencies.
  • PR in the Travel & Leisure Sector

    The ever-increasing pace of communications is having an effect on the travel and leisure sectors, raising the importance of PR for all areas of business operations as the go-to department to navigate changes in the media landscape.
  • Events in the Pharmaceutical Industry

    The pharmaceutical industry is a powerful force in the UK economy, and it's continuing to generate employment and investment opportunities. It employs around 72,000 employees in the UK, and according to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, generates more economic value than any other sector.
  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q3 2012

    The full data from Q3 2012 - Pearlfinders tracks decision-maker sentiment to gauge the buoyancy of each area of marketing.
  • Social Media 2013

    As we enter into the final quarter of 2012, we took the opportunity to ask marketers where their social media priorities lie for the coming year. New research by eBay predicts that in the next two years the value of social media for the retail sector will more than double, soaring from £1.5bn to around £3.3bn. In a discipline that’s constantly evolving, what are marketers’ predictions for 2013?
  • Loyalty marketing & the value of mobile

    Creating customer loyalty against competitors has always been a goal for brands, but it's a particularly important one in a recession, when price can undercut habit for consumers. The CMO Council found that 96% of the UK population is now a member of a loyalty scheme, while 64% belong to three or more. In addition, 32.3% of consumers said the recession made their participation in retail rewards schemes more important.
  • Search and mobile marketing in retail

    With some 3bn searches conducted on Google every day, the decision-makers we speak to are aware not only of the power of search marketing, but of its increasing complexity. Google is set to roll out another Panda update, saying webmasters should expect "some flux", while another question for marketers is whether to invest in mobile search.
  • B2B PR & Marketing

    In the past, B2B marketing centred largely around reaching out to prospects via outbound marketing, using direct mail, advertising and telemarketing in speculative approaches. But in today’s crowded marketplace of services, B2B marketers are leveraging the value of inbound marketing, using expert content, social media and PR to gain customers’ interest.
  • Engaging the youth market

    Brands that capture the attention of 18- to 24-year-olds can gain a lucrative and brand-loyal audience. Yet with the clutter of youth-orientated digital content, promotions and events out there, companies are increasingly challenged to find unique and engaging platforms that can win over this brand-savvy demographic.
  • Marketing in the motor industry

    The UK's car industry is hailed as a driving force for economic recovery, as export sales improve and leading names from Jaguar Land Rover to Toyota commit to major production investments. According to the Society for Motor Manufacturers & Traders, the sector saw a 22% rise in production in July 2012, compared to 2011. Things are looking positive for marketers – but the challenge will be to sustain global demand in the long term.
  • Consumer Insights: balancing new & traditional techniques

    In a discipline with an abundant array of methodologies, how much do market research decision-makers value new technologies over tried-and-tested techniques? Deloitte has predicted a prominent increase in 2012 of the use of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) – a new technology that uses MRI scans to track neurological responses to brand communications and products.
  • The Olympics: Harnessing a renewed enthusiasm for sport

    London 2012 delivered record viewing figures for the BBC, with 51.9m people watching at least 15 minutes of coverage – 90% of the British population. While the public remembers a "home advantage" Olympics where Team GB won the most medals since 1908, sports brands and organisations are considering how to convert this rejuvenated enthusiasm for sport into business growth.
  • Apps & areas of interest in mobile marketing

    New technology is continually promising to change the way consumers shop for and engage with brands. We've found a big appetite for mobile marketing, but the big questions are still whether apps can enhance a brand long-term, or make a real difference to the bottom line.
  • Digital Animation

    With multiple uses across mobile apps, TV ads, online games and banner ads, digital animation is a popular way to produce unique creative assets without the constraints of live production. To find out more about the objectives of this niche area of digital and how it is sourced, Pearlfinders spoke to a range of companies in the FMCG and automobile sectors
  • PR: between creativity and tradition

    The Cannes Lions creative awards in June were followed by a wave of criticism for the PR industry, as PR specialists again failed to receive an award in any category. While communications professionals debate its supposed lack of creativity, how much do brands actually look to PR for creative flair?
  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q2 2012

    The full data from Q2 2012 - Pearlfinders tracks decision-maker sentiment to gauge the buoyancy of each area of marketing.
  • Brand activation: sampling & experiential

    In a climate where many brands are finding their ATL budgets squeezed, experiential marketing can offer one of the most cost-effective and engaging solutions for driving sales. A 2011 study by the Event Marketing Institute revealed that 58% of consumer said they purchased a product after attending a branded event.
  • Retail: Driving growth online

    There’s no denying that e-commerce is a rapidly growing market, as a platform that presents consumers with unbeatable convenience, choice and value for money. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 12% of all UK sales are now made online, and the e-commerce sector grew by 9% between January 2011 and 2012.
  • Challenger brands

    While brands that enjoy a market-leading position have the freedom to invest in wide-reaching ATL campaigns, challenger brands across all sectors are forced to be more resourceful in their allocation of budgets. How does this affect their overall strategy, and what do challenger brands see as the best approach in rivalling their competitors' coveted visibility?
  • The strategic role of social media

    Of the all the changes to media consumption habits in the last five years, the rise of social has been one of the most dramatic for the marketing industry. The 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, which surveyed nearly 4,000 marketers, found that 59% are using social media for six hours or more each week, while 33% invest 11 or more hours weekly.
  • Direct marketing: A fresh look at challenges

    As a discipline traditionally dominated by post communications, direct mail still boasts an impressive response rate – in the last year, 48% of Britons said they'd responded to a piece of direct mail. Yet with so much moving online, how much direct marketing has now transitioned to email and mobile, and to what effect?
  • Tracking appetite for product placement

    It’s been just over a year since paid product placement was legalised for UK productions. The law was overturned in February 2011, although product placement in films and foreign television programmes had been permitted on UK TV for some time. While we've been tracking advertisers’ reactions to the change, a string of brands including Nokia, Morrisons and Henkel's Schwarzkopf have experimented with placement deals on prime-time TV shows.
  • Corporate & employee events

    In an economic climate that has forced many companies to tighten their belts, corporate hospitality and events decision-makers are expected to battle for a share of budgets. With the rise of digital, have face-to-face communications taken a backseat in the broader mix? Or is there an opportunity to tap into event marketers' appetite for new technologies?
  • Content marketing: finding the right voice

    Brands continue to vie for customers’ attention with targeted content, using everything from apps to magazines to give their brand a legitimate voice in consumer conversations. Even B2B companies are increasing their spend, with research by the Content Marketing Institute showing that 60% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget this year.
  • Assessing objectives in mobile

    As mobile becomes an increasingly integrated part of the way that consumers search, shop and share, brands are eager to harness the enormous potential of this channel. Location-based mobile marketing presents a huge opportunity for brands, with research showing that 69% of UK mobile users are happy to share their location in return for relevant content.
  • Challenges and priorities in market research

    Effective market research remains a priority for brands looking to stay ahead of the curve, and to justify new investments with convincing data. Whether it’s to monitor brand health, guide new product development or test creative concepts, decision-makers across the board say intelligent consumer insights are at the heart of successful initiatives.
  • Museums: Exploring interactive and digital design

    In recent years, traditional exhibition design has broadened to involve a wide range of multi-disciplinary design practices. Encompassing graphics, lighting, diverse structural interfaces and digital media, leading museums are striving to create an increasingly interactive multimedia experience to satisfy visitors’ growing expectations.
  • Consumer PR challenges in the travel sector

    After 2011 saw 24 registered travel operators go out of business, and a market reduced by one fifth since 2008, this is a challenging year for the British travel industry. Results from the Office for National Statistics show that overseas travel grew 0.8% in Q4 2011, following four years of decline - but these visits were shorter and less expensive than in pre-recession years.
  • Engaging youth audiences

    Today’s youth market is said to be more tech-savvy, more career-focused and have a higher propensity to spend than previous generations. Yet it’s not plain sailing for youth brands - over a million Britons aged between 16 and 24 are unemployed; more than at any time since 1992. Recent studies also link “aggressive marketing” by youth brands to last summer’s riots, arguing that advertising puts undue pressure on young consumers.
  • Innovation & sustainability in packaging design

    As FMCG brands face pressure to reduce their carbon footprints while attracting customers, the focus is on packaging to provide both commercial and environmental solutions. We explored global and regional priorities at these FMCG giants, and uncovered a live opportunity for UK agencies to support a snack packaging redesign for a multinational food and beverage company. Others discussed how rebrands and redesigns are managed, and what the top challenges are.
  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q1 2012

    The full data from Q1 2012 - Pearlfinders tracks decision-maker sentiment to gauge the buoyancy of each area of marketing.
  • Priorities in digital design & usability

    As brands strive for a presence across multiple digital platforms, digital design and usability testing stand out as prominent areas of opportunity. New devices, interfaces and consumer habits call into question tried-and-tested principles of design, increasing the need for comprehensive UX testing. For companies that rely on e-commerce or m-commerce, a smooth and enjoyable customer journey is a fundamental priority.
  • Growing audiences for green brands

    It’s been a long time since consumers were first encouraged to make environmentally-friendly choices, and the eco-conscious trend has ebbed and flowed over the past decade. While ten years ago, buzzwords such as “eco” and “sustainable” would position a product ahead of the curve, truly inventive brands now need to do more to stand out.
  • Balancing search and digital media

    With Google set to release a new algorithm that will detect and impose penalties on over-optimised websites, now is the time for marketers to consider priorities in search. While securing visibility on search engines is still a top priority, questions remain over the balance with PPC, and how search translates onto mobile devices.
  • Globalising media planning and buying

    With the media landscape in a constant state of development, the UK's biggest advertisers are continually seeking to maximise the impact of available channels. While TV viewership has increased steadily, consumer habits are changing, digital technology is evolving and publications are coming and going. Pearlfinders spoke to decision-makers among the top 100 global media spenders, for advice on prospecting, procurement and priorities.
  • Corporate sponsorship in arts & culture

    2011 saw widespread cuts to public arts funding, leading Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to call for a year of “corporate giving” to soften the blow to UK artistic institutions. However, last year corporate funding of the arts decreased for the fourth year in a row - its rate is now lower than that of 2004. Pearlfinders spoke to some of the UK’s biggest sponsors of arts to get their thoughts on the role corporate sponsorship plays today.
  • Balancing online, social and mobile commerce

    Faced with continuous changes in technology and consumer expectations, e-tailers are under constant pressure to keep up with developments and convert them to profits. As digital platforms become more complex, the need to integrate channels and ensure a consistent brand experience across the board is high on the agenda.
  • CRM: driving loyalty across channels

    With the continual development of marketing technologies, brands' CRM strategies are adapting to explore more sophisticated ways of engaging their customers, learning about them and driving loyalty - a valuable goal in a challenging economy. We spoke to a range of CRM marketers across the travel, leisure, finance, retail and charity sectors to gain an understanding of these evolving priorities.
  • The role of TV in a digital age

    With economic pressures and a growing understanding of consumers' media habits, it's long been expected that digital will win budgets from TV and traditional advertising channels - where tracking is more vague, results aren't immediate and spend is harder to justify. We spoke to some of the UK’s top advertising spenders for their perspective on the balance between TV and digital.
  • High street retailers develop in-store experience

    With the high street still struggling, and Mary Portas’ recent review highlighting a need for improvements, many retailers are taking a fresh eye to in-store experience. Emphasising that “high streets must be ready to experiment, try new things, take risks and become destinations again,” the review questioned a reliance on tried-and-tested methods.
  • Recruiters highlight the importance of thought leadership to brand positioning

    A new careers website launched in the US last week is pioneering the use of video CVs and video screening in the recruitment process. We spoke to a variety of recruitment companies to get their perspective on the potential of this medium, as well as their thoughts on marketing priorities for the coming year.

  • The year ahead in comms

    This year, PR pros are looking forward to a year for rebuilding integrity and trust, focusing on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics. We’ve spoken to PR decision-makers across the retail, FMCG and telecoms sectors for their thoughts on agency preferences for the year ahead.

  • Skills sector scales up marketing

    With record levels of unemployment in the UK – the worst since 1994 – the skills and training sector has been one of the few to benefit from the current economy. Helping Britons gain qualifications or get back to work has become a lucrative business. For agencies, traditional services like print and design are likely to be wrapped up by procurement, scaling up PR and digital – in particular, mobile and social media – is a focus for marketers in 2012.

  • Financial firms gear up for social

    It’s safe to say the financial services sector is naturally risk-averse, and correspondingly marketers are still cautious in their approach to social media. We spoke to marketers across the industry for their views. We found that while we found that many have set up internal committees or formed social media teams, negotiating legislation that surrounds the promotion of financial products remains a sticking point.

  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q4 2011

    The full data from Q4 2011 - Pearlfinders tracks decision-maker sentiment to gauge the buoyancy of each area of marketing.
  • Priorities in CRM

    Customer relationship marketers are facing what could be one of the biggest years in CRM. Despite warnings of data overload, as the Big Data challenge comes to the fore, social CRM has the potential to revolutionise brand communications. To understand the potential challenges and priorities for brands looking to maximise customer communications, we’ve spoken to brands across the financial, travel, motor and retail sectors.
  • Retailers consider future of the high street

    Last week, TV personality and retail expert Mary Portas released a government-commissioned review of the state of the UK high street. Retailers across the country are still struggling, with footfall outside London said to have declined by at least 10% over the past three years. We’ve spoken to a number of retailers for their thoughts on the future of the high street, and how this could affect marketing strategies.

  • Partnership marketers discuss priorities for 2012

    Having spoken with decision-makers across the travel and leisure industry it’s evident that there are no hard and fast rules when considering strategies for 2012. While partnerships do appear to be taking a greater role in the marketing mix, as decision-makers seek to better integrate their brands with people’s lives, agencies need to consider the broader business goals of each.

  • Autumn Statement: Marketers’ reactions

    It’s clear that many SMEs are still getting to grips with the implications of the Autumn Statement. Decreases in corporation tax will undoubtedly be a long-term advantage for businesses, but it’s felt that these measures are likely to benefit the bigger players and the startups, leaving medium-sized firms on unsure footing.

  • Marketers consider NFC

    Having spoken with marketing decision-makers, we’ve found that there are many unanswered questions with respect to NFC. Decision-makers are focusing their attention on “getting the basics right” with mobile and social media, to ensure there’s a solid basis for any future developments.

  • Mobile Search for 2012

    From the conversations we’ve had, it’s evident that there’s still a level of scepticism around the impact of mobile SEO. While the importance of mobile as a channel and the need to see it fully integrated into the mix for a seamless user experience is undisputed, the relevance of search is less keenly felt.

  • Mobile in market research

    While new methodologies are always hitting the market research space, their perceived worth by research professionals doesn’t necessarily match the hype.

  • Experiential and events in 2012

    For brands looking to make some noise in summer 2012, there is going to be a great deal of additional clutter on the experiential scene. Aside from the usual host of festivals, events and sporting fixtures, the London Olympic and Paralympic Games will dominate between July and September.
  • Prospecting tactics in comms

    For perspectives on how brands are negotiating the shifting comms space, how traditional PR fits with online, and how agencies are used to implement these strategies, Pearlfinders spoke to decision-makers across the motor, FMCG and travel sectors.
  • Priorities in mobile

    From the conversations we’ve had, it’s evident that while there are a host of opportunities available to marketing decision-makers using mobile technology, there are more fundamental issues to address in the first instance.
  • Big Data: Marketers consider CRM, loyalty and social media

    From the conversations we’ve had, it’s evident that while data decision-makers are thinking about the potential impact of vast amounts of customer information, their concerns aren’t focused on which tools to bring in to deal with this, but which questions to be asking.
  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q3 2011

    The full data from Q3 2011 - Pearlfinders takes the temperature for each area of marketing.

  • B2B Marketing

    B2B marketers have long been fighting the reputation for producing lacklustre campaigns that are traditional in focus and slow to adopt new technologies. While this is perhaps now an outdated view, we’ve taken the opportunity to talk to a number of major industrial businesses for their thoughts on the current state of marketing in B2B sectors.
  • Talking points in packaging & brand design

    The UK Packaging Awards next month will recognise retailers and products for packaging innovations and sustainability over the past year. As CSR comes into ever sharper focus for brands, and products have to work harder on the shelf, we’ve taken the opportunity to speak with some of the nominees for their thoughts on priorities in design and branding at the moment.
  • Priorities in social commerce for UK retailers

    Regarding social commerce, it’s clear that marketers hope to be approached with strong creds and a real business understanding, rather than “fuzzy measurements". While smaller, more nimble retailers have found it relatively easy to start selling through Facebook, for more complex businesses an F-commerce launch is still years away
  • SEO in the travel industry

    Six months ago Google launched the Panda update to its search algorithms, designed to reduce the rankings of low-quality sites and increase the visibility of high-quality sites, rich in original content. While the intent is positive, for some brands the reality has been a significant drop in traffic. We’ve spoken to marketing decision-makers across the travel industry for insights into how they – and agencies – should be adapting.
  • The new breed of casual dining chains planning growth

    The recession's lasting impact on the UK high street is well-documented – according to recent research from the Local Data Company, one in seven shops is now boarded up across the UK, while vacancy rates are up to 30% in areas like Dudley and West Bromwich. For current perspectives on the UK casual dining sector, Pearlfinders has spoken to five up-and-coming restaurant brands.
  • New challenges in customer experience

    As touch points for brands to interact with customers – and customers with each other – diversify with technology, the need to create a consistent experience across all channels is becoming a greater concern for both marketers and customer service representatives. We’ve spoken to decision-makers at finance and retail brands for their views on the challenge.
  • Priorities in PR

    While there is a sense that PR agencies should broaden their offer and skill set across channels – and for the decision-makers we spoke to there is a continuing drive for the integration and alignment of all communications, both traditional and digital – there remains a need for separation between paid and earned comms, in order for brands to top up their “trust bank”.
  • Scotland gears up for 2014

    The 20th Commonwealth Games will be held in Glasgow in 2014. The event will be the biggest of any kind to be hosted in Scotland, drawing 6,000 athletes and officials from 71 nations. The period between 2012 and 2014 is considered a “golden opportunity” to present Scotland to the world - we’ve spoken to marketing decision-makers for insights on sponsorship and PR initiatives around these events, as well as their agency preferences.
  • Higher education marketing to commercialise

    As prospective university students brace for tuition fees of up to £9000 per year, the institutions themselves face a new marketing challenge. It’s not yet clear how the move will affect demand, but what’s certain is that both sector competition and student expectations are set to rise.
  • London Fashion Week 2011

    The fashion industry is gearing up for London Fashion Week, this year held September 16-20. Taking a wider look at sponsorship, a lack of new compelling properties coming to the market was highlighted as a challenge by decision-makers we spoke to.
  • New messages in green marketing

    The Sunday Times has released this year's list of the UK's 60 Best Green Companies. The "green list" looks both at environmental policies and the extent to which they're adopted by staff in a practical context, ensuring real responsibility whether the business is large or small, with a high or low impact.
  • Casual dining sector to build on growth

    For the high street restaurant, understanding the consumer is naturally a priority, but one marketer said the fast-casual industry – which until the recession did very little marketing – still has a lot to learn. For agencies looking to push into new verticals there are lessons to be learned from retailers, supermarkets and FMCG brands.
  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q2 2011

    The full data from Q2 2011 - Pearlfinders takes the temperature for each area of marketing.

  • Next generation social media monitoring

    The power of Twitter has become clear in recent months. While privacy battles have long raged in celebrity circles over its impact, the website's role in thwarting super-injunctions and mobilising the masses in response to revelations over News Corp’s journalistic practices has been historic. Pearlfinders has spoken to marketing decision-makers for a sense of current thinking on social media – and brands' expectations of agency partners in changing times.
  • Online dating: marketing tactics in a competitive sector

    While strong growth is being seen across the dating industry, competition is fierce. For decision-makers we spoke to customer acquisition is relatively straightforward, but retaining those conversions and ensuring they utilise services remains a challenge. Marketers are turning to the agency world to help them get creative with PR and digital.
  • Content marketing: The next steps

    Among those we spoke to, the emerging theme was one of integration and collaboration. The crossover between IT, marketing and customer services departments is increasing, and when it comes to platforms, according to one marketer, “social media and digital are on a collision course". For agencies that can encompass this company-wide view in their communications, then, there’s an opportunity to gain traction.
  • Recruiters prioritise PR to tackle brand differentiation challenge

    Although the recruitment market is seeing more available jobs, there are other problems to tackle with the quality of candidates. Recruiters are competing for the top prospects – leading marketing decision-makers to reassess brand strategy and PR, prompting new business opportunities for agencies.
  • An integrated approach to experiential

    While events have previously been seen by many as a bolt-on, for the brands we spoke to it’s now about integrating experiential with the wider marketing mix. Rather than working in isolation, events specialists need to be “part of the bigger picture”.
  • Casual gamblers drive industry interest in new media

    For the gambling industry, the stalwart business drivers have long been betting, poker and casino gaming, but the landscape is changing. Whilst operators have historically relied on serious gamblers, the casual player is now the focus.
  • The role of procurement post-recession

    The old adage of 'magic versus logic' – and how to pitch your offer to marketing and procurement teams, respectively – is well known. But how relevant is this school of thought today?
  • Social media challenges in financial services

    For agencies, speaking with authority on the intricacies of the financial world is essential. Although consumer confidence is beginning to return to the market, decision-makers are unwilling to disrupt the status quo. At the same time there is a belief that social media can give financial firms a competitive edge when dealing with a more sceptical consumer – transparency is key.
  • Luxury marketers embrace digital

    While in the past, there was a sense that appearing in the digital space was “too mass market” and carried the risk of devaluing a luxury brand, there is now a new opportunity for agencies to take a strategic role as brands toe the line between exclusivity and driving sales.
  • Modernising CSR

    With so many government efficiency agendas in place, noncompliance has the potential to be more costly in penalties than not, so sustainability has naturally taken greater precedence in wider business models. But this has left CSR in an uncertain space. Some say it’s now defunct, while others insist the difference is mere semantics. For comms specialists in the field, the shifts in corporate perspectives is creating new opportunities.
  • Legal shakeup prompts new opportunities for brand strategists

    For a profession that has already been shaken up by the prevalence of personal injury specialists, the further evolution of consumer legal services is prompting firms to revisit core brand values, as known consumer brands gear up to take market share from long-established players. Where law firms now need to take a more customer-focused approach, for agencies there's a unique opportunity to break into professional business services.
  • Third sector looks to integrated strategies to commercialise messaging

    In a turbulent global environment marred by natural disasters and civil unrest, charities are vying for increased donation from a public facing a squeeze in personal finances. For marketers working in the third sector, budgets are coming under heavier scrutiny, as are the services of agency partners. The need for game-changing brand marketing initiatives is, however, securing the role of agencies.
  • Travel marketers seek to restore confidence through digital

    This time last year, almost two million travellers had their holiday plans disrupted by the ash cloud crisis. Now, year holidaymakers are expecting more from their travel providers, while the companies themselves are expecting more from their agencies.
  • Market research: Evolving new business practices

    ISBA's publication of a market research guide for clients comes as procurement departments are playing an ever-increasing role in consumer insight operations. Pearlfinders has spoken to companies across the utilities, retail, FMCG and financial services industries, for perspectives on the evolution of the procurement of market research services, as well as the next areas of investment.
  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q1 2011

    The full data from Q1 2011 - Pearlfinders takes the temperature for each area of marketing.

  • Challenges in building a sporting legacy

    For sports marketers and agency partners alike, the Olympics is undoubtedly a rare opportunity for the promotion of sports, but a consequence is that they're battling to stand out in the crowd. Pearlfinders spoke to six of the UK's sporting associations to understand the challenges and platforms for engagement sports marketers can capitalise on, in the run-up to 2012 and beyond.
  • Trade unions: The need for relevance in the digital era

    With up to 500,000 job losses expected in the public sector over the next five years, the union movement is in a unique position, with the potential to mobilise and support popular opinion. Illustrated by its impact across the Middle East and Africa, the political power of social media is unquestioned, so why are the UK's trade unions slow to revolutionise comms?
  • Changing priorities in packaging design

    Many UK consumers are still making purchasing decisions on a budget, so packaging has to work harder to convince shoppers to buy in just a few seconds. Nevertheless, while cost-effectiveness is a big driver, expectations are now ingrained that packaging will be sustainable and recyclable.
  • UK brands experiment with product placement

    As of the 28th of February 2011, product placement is permitted in UK television programming. The move is seen as essential by many, as an alternative revenue stream for broadcasters in an increasingly challenging media market.
  • Managing social media in sport

    Digital media has been a game-changer for fan interaction in sport. But as social media offers new opportunities for clubs and sponsors to converse with fans, it’s the players who are finding themselves in hot water, and over the past few months Twitter has been a major fixture of the back pages.

  • Is mobile search a turn-off for UK brands?

    Industry pundits have once again hailed 'the year of mobile', with smartphone shipments overtaking those of PCs for the first time and the major operating platforms are jostling for business. So why are brands cautious about pushing the development of mobile search?

  • The Royal Wedding 2011: Can the honeymoon period last for British heritage?

    The wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton on 29 April 2011 is being hailed as the media sensation of the decade. While employees are eyeing the additional holiday and the younger generation looks forward to its first Royal Wedding, brands are also gearing up for the big day.

  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q4

    The full data from Q4 2010 - Pearlfinders takes the temperature for each area of marketing.

  • British Brands Abroad

    Welcome to our final quarterly special report of 2010, which looks at the marketing decisions involved with launching a British brand to global markets - and on the other side - the opportunities and challenges that surround supporting international brands that are hoping to establish a foothold in the UK.

  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q3

    The full data from Q3 2010 - Pearlfinders takes the temperature for each area of marketing.

  • London 2012 Tier 2 Sponsors

    As the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics gathers pace, we've spoken to senior marketers at every one of the event's second tier sponsors about their involvement and activation plans.

  • London 2012 Tier 3 Sponsors

    (September 2010) Following the opening of volunteer applications for the London 2012 Olympics, Pearlfinders has spoken to marketers at Tier-3 sponsors of the Games. These partners provide services to the event with limited monetary exchange. This does not mean, however, that significant sums are not being spent leveraging the tie-ups.

  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q2

    The full data from Q2 2010 - Pearlfinders takes the temperature for each area of marketing.

  • Generation Marketing

    Welcome to our third special report of 2010, which investigates brands that focus their marketing on either a senior or a youth audience.

  • Music Festivals

    Welcome to our second Special Report of 2010. This time we've chosen to look at music festivals and the increasingly sophisticated approach that brands use to exploit them. According to eFestivals founder Neil Greenway, there are 630 festival-type events taking place in 2010.
  • Where the work is - Pearlfinders Index Q1

    The full data from Q1 2010 - Pearlfinders takes the temperature for each area of marketing.

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