BEIJING: Around two thirds of marketers in China want to work with more integrated agencies according to a new study.

The finding emerged from the sixth wave of the biennial Agency Scope study undertaken by R3, which was based on in-depth, face-to-face interviews with 400 senior marketing decision-makers from more than 250 multinational and local companies in China and analysis of more than 700 client-agency relationships. 

Some 64% of marketers in China said they would prefer to work with an integrated agency that could meet all their communications needs, while 31% liked to seek out specialists in each discipline.

"The shift towards integrated agencies is not surprising," said Sabrina Lee, managing director of R3 China.

"This is in line with a global trend, but is even more prevalent in China where the fragmented market drives a preference for an integrated solution," she added.

Another consequence of fragmentation is complexity, which is leading China's marketers to develop relationships with fewer, more trusted agency partners, and to stay with those partners for longer.

The study showed that they are now working with an average of 6.4 partners, down from 8.2 in 2014, while the typical length of the average client-agency relationship has grown from 3.2 to 3.8 years.

"This is a positive sign not only of the gradual stabilisation of marketer-agency relationships, but also that agencies themselves are strengthening their product offerings and making some headway in resolving marketers' demands for greater integration," said Lee.

At the same time, however, agencies are increasingly finding themselves in competition with in-house marketing teams, especially in the areas of strategic development, below the line, digital strategy and data analytics.

Creative, planning and media remain the preserve of agency partners.

Data sourced from R3, Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff