Marketers are facing a crisis of confidence about the immediate future, according to the summer Marketing Trends Survey published by Britain's Chartered Institute of Marketing.

According to the study, lack of confidence has resulted in its members setting extremely circumspect sales targets. Sales growth forecasts across the marketing spectrum now average 4.7% compared with 4.9% earlier this year – an unsurpassed nadir since the CIM began publishing the study in 1994.

Until this spring, anticipated average sales growth had never fallen below 5% and only on two occasions – in January 1998 and April 1996 – has it dropped below six per cent.

Although 59% of respondents maintain that their targets are realistic, few are optimistic that they will achieve even the lowered figures. The CIM Confidence Index has slumped to 89.1%, its second lowest level to date.

Forty per cent of marketers believe they face “formidable” sales goals, twenty nine per cent seeing these as "very challenging", while another 9% dub them “unrealistic”.

These attitudes appear to be constant across most types of business, regions and size of companies, with only a smattering of categories defying the gloom – primarily the services and chemicals sectors, and businesses based in the North of England and the West Midlands.

Not a single respondent expected to better their targets “by a wide margin” with only a small minority believing they would attain their goals.

The report, which underscores the results of the CIM's spring 2001 survey, concludes that the marketing profession has undergone a blow to its confidence and is moving forward with caution. This in turn has affected spending plans.

News source: Daily Research News Online