WARC March 2022: marketing spend growth slows across the globe

Growth rates ease after a strong bounceback last year, but Europe sees marked slowdown in marketing budgets and staffing levels settle globally.

Marketing spend remains on the up, but the rate of growth has slowed across the globe, according to the latest findings from WARC.

WARC’s Global Marketing Index (GMI) for March 2022 has seen another decrease, marking the fourth month in a row [CHECK] that growth has eased following a strong recovery over the COVID-19 pandemic. The headline value globally now stands at 61.1, down from 62.4 in February 2022, which at the time was the slowest rate of growth recorded in nine months.

The WARC GMI is an indicator of the state of the global marketing industry, and tracks rates of growth across trading conditions, marketing budgets and staffing levels based on a monthly poll of more than 1,000 marketing executives.

An index value of 50 or more represents growth, and all regions remain above this marker, meaning that marketing spend is still on the rise. But APAC is the only one to have seen an increase in the rate of growth on spend, bouncing back from the marked drop in growth rate the previous month, with an index value of 64.3 in March 2022 up on the 63.7 in February. 

Europe continues to see growth ease on the other hand, with an index value of 57.8 dropping from 60.7 month on month, while in the Americas the rate of growth, at an index value of 64.1 in March 2022, is down from 65.4 the previous month. 

Mobile outstrips digital in growth rate race

Digital and mobile channels remain in growth with index values of 67.8 and 68.5 respectively, but the growth rate has eased compared to February when index values were 70.1 and 71.3. March 2022 is the second month where mobile has seen a higher rate of budget growth than digital.

Out-of-home was the only channel to see marketing budget growth rise last month, but radio and press budgets remain in decline, with index values of 46.8 and 36.7.

Marked European slowdown in marketing budget growth 

Marketing budget growth in Europe has seen a considerable slowdown. In March 2022, the index value for marketing budgets in the region sat at 52.2 - a marked contraction from the 66.9 seen just six months ago.

The highest rate of growth for marketing budgets was in APAC, at 64.1 while the Americas saw a further dip in growth rate at 60.6 in March 2022, down from 62.8 in February.

Globally the rate of growth in marketing budgets fell for the third consecutive month this March, standing at 58.4. WARC attributes this to a possible easing of growth following the strong recovery amid COVID-19 during the second half of last year, and supply chain disruptions playing a part. 

Trading conditions in APAC appear to have bounced back, with the index value increasing to 65.7 in March from 62.9, while Europe and the Americas saw dips in growth rates. 

Stabilising staff numbers

WARC’s Staffing Index shows the number of staff taken on compared to the same period the previous year. 

Despite continued concerns around talent shortages in the industry and the continued threat of the Great Resignation, the global Staffing Index actually decreased slightly in March to 65.5 from 66 in February. There were marginal dips in index values in Europe and the Americas, after accelerations in February, while the value in APAC fell from 64.2 to 63.1, indicating that staffing levels are settling compared to previous months.