Uncertainty about the economic consequences of Brexit lingers in Europe, especially as the UK and the European Union have not yet concluded a withdrawal agreement, yet brand marketers in the UK, France and Germany remain surprisingly upbeat.

According to Rakuten Marketing, three-quarters (74%) of the 610 marketers it polled in a new survey expect their marketing budgets to increase in 2020 despite the backdrop of Brexit and other concerns about international trade.

And while they are aware that the year ahead is likely to present them with some difficult challenges and tough decisions, a full 84% of UK respondents said they feel optimistic about marketing in 2020, rising to 88% in France and 89% in Germany.

More than half (53%) of marketers in these three key European markets said that expanding into new markets would be their top priority for 2020, driven in part because 41% of them believe tougher competition from online retail giants poses the greatest threat to their work next year.

The survey questioned marketers in five sectors – luxury fashion, mainstream fashion, retail, travel and finance – and found concern about Amazon and other giant e-retailers was felt most acutely among mainstream fashion marketers in the UK (57%).

“Marketers clearly see 2020 as a vital year to find solid international footing amid the rise of the digitally native retailers [which] have rocked the UK high street,” said Anthony Capano, managing director of Rakuten Marketing’s international division.

“Focusing on how they are going to reach these new markets, as well as reduce marketing spend wastage, will be key for those looking to expand internationally and continue to boost revenue,” he added.

On that last finding about wastage, the survey revealed that UK marketers think almost a third (30%) of their marketing budget is still being wasted on the wrong channels or strategies, a 10% rise since the beginning of 2018.

This is another reason to explain marketers’ focus on winning new customers and markets in 2020 and, as such, they intend to concentrate new budgets into channels such as affiliate marketing and social media advertising (both 40%).

“Simply investing more money in marketing will not grow a brand globally,” said Capano. “The mistake is to assume existing audiences are representative of other markets, whereas the truth is brands must be more open-minded. This is the value of the affiliate network; the ability to pair the product with shoppers – wherever they are in the world.”

Sourced from Rakuten Marketing; additional content by WARC staff