The latest Marketing Trends Survey by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Marketing portrays an all time low in confidence among senior members of the business.

The survey’s Confidence Index – which measures members’ confidence in their ability to reach sales targets - stood three months ago at 98.5 and has since nosedived to its lowest-ever level of 82.5.

Only 36% of respondents describe their sales plan as ‘realistic’, compared to 58% three months ago. In contrast, 62% described their sales plan as ‘very challenging’ and only 3% as ‘over achievable’, compared to 20% and 19% respectively, in the earlier survey.

The largest firms, those with a turnover of over £100 million ($158.81m; €144.76m), are forecasting 6.3% growth following only a 2.7% rise last year. Across the board, firms are planning a 1.7% increase in total sales resource this year, down from the 2.4% increase reported in winter 2002.

Comments CIM chairman Mike Johnston: “Clearly uncertainty about war in Iraq combined with a continuing consumer slowdown mean that senior UK marketers are concerned about the prospect of a recession.”

Next Monday the CIM will launch Brand Power – a campaign showing marketers how to harness the power of their brands to drive business performance through tough times.

The postal survey was conducted among UK-resident CIM members and other senior marketing professionals between 14-21 February and the data is based on 120 respondents.

Data sourced from: CIM (UK); additional content by WARC staff