Survey says Canada lags in research spend

Marketers need to improve communication and market research investment, say media and advertising agencies in global survey by AgencyLink.

Client marketers may be great motivators, but media and communications agencies say they need to start sharing performance concerns and invest more in market research, according to a survey released yesterday by AgencyLink, a Toronto-based client-agency relationship management specialist.

The global survey was conducted as part of AgencyLink’s affiliation with SCAN International, author of the study, ‘A Global Voice for Marketing Agency Leaders,’ in hopes of stimulating dialogue and improving client-agency relationships. About 620 agency leaders from seven countries participated in the survey, conducted in February 2009, including 106 agency leaders in Canada. Of those in Canada, 25% surveyed were said they offered in media, and 41% were in advertising, with others in the PR and communications, package and design, corporate brand retail design and digital marketing industries.

Canadian client willingness to invest in market and communications research scores poorly compared to other nations. In Canada, 38% of agencies classify marketers as weak investors in research, while only 16% say they are excellent or good research-wise. Comparatively, in the US and UK, 24% of clients are rated weak while another 24% are rated excellent/good.

When asked to select the three most important areas for improvement of client performance in relation to their agencies, Canadian agency leaders rated the following: strategic direction and briefings (71% and the highest of all participating countries); quality of decision-making process and streamlining approval levels (38%); quality of judgement and ability to understand agency’s recommendations (34%); sharing information (33%); expertise, skills, and training for client marketers (25.5%).

Canadian clients also need to improve accountability in sharing their performance results, score cards and metrics with agencies. Of those surveyed, 36% said Canadian clients are weak in sharing this information. In the U.S., 26% are weak, while in Europe 23% are weak. When asked which client sectors are better than average in terms of overall quality of performance, the top three categories named were B2B, services and financial services. Meanwhile, the poorest performers in Canada by sector are those clients in the government, not-for-profit and retail categories, but CPG and consumer durables also rate poorly.

The good news? Canadian client marketers rank the best among all the countries surveyed in their ability to inspire and motivate agencies: 27% of Canadian agency leaders say their clients are excellent motivators. Only 9% of Canadian agency leaders say their clients are weak in motivating them, while in the U.S. (29%) and France (34.5%) agencies respond that their clients are weak motivators.

To view the complete survey, go here.