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22:27 on Wednesday
31 December 2003

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Business cuts back sales targets to cautious levels


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After a less-than-sparkling Christmas many of the region’s businesses are remaining cautious about their sales prospects for 2003, with growth targets of just 4.6 per cent wallowing at around half the level of just two years ago.

Even at these relatively low targets 90 per cent of businesses in East Anglia believe their sales plans are very challenging and 10 per cent think they are unrealistic, according to the latest Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) survey.


However, the 4.6 per cent target is still higher than the 3.5 per cent sales growth that companies expected three months ago and the negative outlook in East Anglia is in sharp contrast to a national picture of greater confidence among marketing managers. The CIM’s national ‘confidence index’ has risen to a seven-year high of 98.5 compared with 89.7 in the autumn.

This increased confidence does not reflect improvements in the underlying economy, says Michael Holland, director of Peterborough-based marketing and public relations consultancy Smye Holland Associates, who is one of the CIM’ s survey panel. “Marketers appear to be downgrading their sales plans and marketing budgets to very cautious levels.

“There is a danger that cutting advertising, sales and other marketing budgets could result in long-term damage to future growth prospects. Past experience reveals that firms that maintain their marketing efforts during difficult economic conditions rebound much faster than others when the economy recovers.”

The survey reveals that most industry sectors are more positive about their prospects for 2003 compared with last year with food, drink and tobacco expecting 5.5 per cent growth and financial services aiming for 13 per cent.

Small firms (those with less than £1 million turnover) are the most optimistic with 8.6 per cent sales growth targets, closely followed by firms in the £1-£10 million bracket with 7.8 per cent expectations.

In a separate section of the survey marketing managers were asked whether brands were presented with credibility and responsibility through different advertising media. Respondents in East Anglia were 100 per cent in favour of newspaper, radio and poster advertisements with only a 60 per cent score for cinema, 40 per cent for television and 20 per cent for children’s magazines.

Eighty per cent of East Anglia respondents also believed that parental control and European Union legislation were the best ways of regulating advertising to children, followed by 60 per cent for government legislation and 40 per cent for a voluntary code.

January 2003

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Contact:
Mike Holland
Smye Holland Associates
63 Park Road
Peterborough
PE1 2TN
Tel: 01733 564906

Smye Holland Associates

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