LONDON: Despite slow economic growth and falling consumer confidence, Europe continues to buck global marketing trends as the region's Global Marketing Index (GMI) hit its highest ever figure in March.

The headline GMI for Europe stood at 59.2, a rise of 0.5 percentage points on the previous month and well above the global figure of 54.9 which showed only marginal movement as the downward trends seen previously in the Americas and Asia-Pacific continued. A benchmark of 50.0 indicates no change.

The Global Marketing Index, compiled by World Economics, provides a unique monthly indicator of the state of the global marketing industry because it tracks current conditions among marketers and their expectations in the three key areas of marketing budgets, trading conditions and staffing levels.

Global marketing budgets grew only modestly and the rate of growth has been on a long-term decline for more than two years now. On current trends, global marketing budgets could start to be cut in early 2017, according to World Economics.

This projection partially aligns with that outlined last month as part of Warc's Global Adspend Outlook 2016/17, a summary of future ad investment trends, which indicates that quadrennial events such as the US presidential elections and the Olympic and Paralympic Games will provide a boost to global adspend growth this year, before the rate eases during 2017.

The report expects European adspend to rise 3.3% to  $150bn in 2016, buoyed by rapidly increasing investment in mobile formats and an uptick in TV spot adspend surrounding the Euro 2016 football tournament in June.

Indeed, March's GMI found that the allocation of marketing budgets continues to shift away from TV in the Americas and Asia Pacific, although there was a steady rise in Europe, which follows an all-time high for the European TV index in February. Digital and mobile are continuing to grow strongly in all regions.

The Staffing Levels Index, which reflects the number of staff taken on compared to the same period a year earlier, rose most strongly in Europe, followed by Asia Pacific and then the Americas.

Europe's GMI performance comes as the latest Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI), a composite indicator made up of five sectoral confidence indicators and produced by the European Commission, fell for the third month in a row in both the euro area (down 0.9 points to 103.0) and the EU (down 0.7 points to 104.6).

Among the individual confidence indicators, consumer confidence was down 0.9 points as pessimism grows about the general economic situation and personal financial situations.

Data sourced from World Economics, European Commission; additional content by Warc staff