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Coronavirus: November 2020 - The Impacts on Business


In November, the DMA conducted its latest research into the key concerns and impacts coronavirus is having on the data and marketing industry. This seventh phase of the survey first fielded in March 2020 points to a return to pre-summer levels of worry amid the UK’s second lockdown.

The figures for November suggest the optimism felt over the summer months may have dissipated slightly, despite news in the month of additional financial support from government and the prospect of multiple new vaccines in the New Year. The estimates of revenue decline amid the pandemic had improved over the summer, from a low of almost half (-47.2%) in May to around a quarter in September (-27.9%). However, these early signs of recovery appear to have slipped as new restrictions have meant revenue decline has risen to around a third (-34.2%).

The majority (79%) of organisations believe the economic impact of the pandemic will be negative – with a quarter (25%) believing it will be extremely so, while just one in ten (12%) believe the economic effects may be good. Key concerns about cashflows (76%) and cut-backs (53%) continue to lead the way, but there is also rising sentiment about the burden of social distancing (41%) and restrictions disproportionately impacting certain sectors (38%).

Moreover, 59% of businesses expect to see overall budgets decrease in the coming year, with staffing (59% expect the budget to decrease), marketing (57%), and capital expenditure (56%) expected to be worst hit.

“Across the data and marketing industry, trading remains extremely difficult for many businesses. Revenues remain significantly below pre-pandemic levels and budgets for the coming year look set to be similarly reduced,” says Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA. “Even as news of positive progress on vaccines offers a beacon of light, many businesses will have to make difficult decisions over the coming months. We welcome the government’s unprecedented support for business and will continue to represent our industry, ensuring it has the assistance it needs.”

Three-quarters (75%) of professionals surveyed reported they are continuing to work from home and avoid unnecessary travel, a rise from 66% in September. They also increasingly expect to remain in this home working environment well into the New Year – on average respondents expected to work from home for around 50 days, up from just under 40 just two months ago.

However, there are some concerns about the ability to continue to serve customers effectively in this environment. Over one in three of the organisations that responded to the survey said their ability to serve customers’ needs was becoming harder (43%) and to carry out marketing was also getting worse (35%).

Also, the number of businesses taking this opportunity to offer staff the chance to develop and learn further over this period has continued to decline – just under a third (29%) of organisations are offering skills development and training during the pandemic.

Combemale continues: “Many in our industry will remain working remotely over the holiday season and well into the New Year. We would encourage more individuals and organisations to see this as an opportunity to develop too, to ensure they have the necessary skills to better market and serve customers today and tomorrow. We continue to offer a full range of data and marketing development opportunities, available via our virtual classrooms while face-to-face sessions are still not available.”

The DMA’s Coronavirus Survey has been running since March 2020 to ensure a clear picture of the impacts the pandemic is having on the data and marketing industry. The survey link will remain open over the coming months, so please continue to share how the current conditions are affecting you, your organisation and the industry:

Full results of the survey are available to download here:

Coronavirus: November 2020 – The Impacts on Business

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