LONDON: A quarter of marketers in the UK plan to reduce the number of agencies they work with, while a similar number are set to further rein in their expenditure over the next six months, The Marketing Society and Royal Mail have found.

A poll of 115 marketing directors conducted by the two organisations revealed that 25% of participants are set to slim down their agency rosters, while two-thirds will work with the same number of marketing and advertising partners as previously.

Some 25% of contributors also plan to cut their spending levels during the next two quarters, but an equal number will boost their outlay, and half will remain static on this measure.

In terms of current priorities, 28% of the panel will direct the majority of their budget to attracting new consumers in this period, while 19% will deploy these funds to retain their existing customers.

More broadly, a third of the sample regarded "generating sales to boost the bottom line" as their main goal, compared with 8% according this status to building brands.

By media, 52.2% of respondents will place the most emphasis on search engine optimisation, followed by direct mail, on 44.2%.

Online display ads were the channel of choice for a quarter of senior marketers, while a fifth will make increased use of paid-for search.

At the other end of the spectrum, mobile advertising was regarded as the primary focus by just 4.4% of contributors, while cinema recorded no votes.

Mark Thomson, media director at Royal Mail, said "marketers appear optimistic that economic recovery lies ahead. An acquisition play is timely to position for when consumer and business confidence returns."

Data sourced from Marketing Week/Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff