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DMA Insight: Positivity and Compassion Grows, but Challenges Ahead


How has the industry fared coming out of the challenges from the pandemic? We asked over 200 senior data and marketing professionals that judged the 2021’s DMA Awards about their experiences over the last year and future expectations.

After the difficulties faced in 2020, this last year has been a much more positive one for most of the organisations surveyed. Indeed, the positivity about the last 12 months has multiplied from 23% this time last year to 84% today. Moreover, future expectations are even more encouraging, with 94% of businesses having a positive outlook for 2022 (compared to 36% last year).

The increasingly compassionate approach identified in last year’s research and called for by consumers (identified in the ‘How to Win Trust and Loyalty’ report) has continued throughout 2021, according to those surveyed.

In total, 85% of professionals said their brands (or clients) have been more compassionate and thoughtful in their marketing approaches during and coming out of the pandemic. In particular, one in five (21%) in this group reported this was ‘Much more’ the case, which is a rise from 14% last year. It’s another positive sign this approach appears to benefit brands too.

There are key challenges ahead that the data and marketing industry must tackle. While concerns around Brexit and Covid recovery have both fallen (37% and 59% respectively in 2020), the issues of diversity and inclusion remain high this year for more than half of the judges surveyed (58%). Equally, attracting (49%) and retaining (53%) talent are major concerns for most businesses heading into 2022.

In addition, around half (48%) of data and marketing professionals surveyed also cited measurement as a challenge the industry must overcome – specifically around ROI. ‘Meaningful Measurement’ was the topic of a recent roundtable host by the DMA and Salesforce, discussing some of the findings of the ‘Meaningful Marketing Measurement 2021’ report and what can be done to overcome these challenges.

To discover real-life examples of the data and marketing industry’s greatest work, take a look through the latest DMA Awards winners' case studies. Here, you’ll find an archive of great examples of creativity, strategy and results.

You can find out more about the DMA’s latest insights and research via our research page.


This research was undertaken by the DMA and was conducted in October 2021 via an online survey of 217 respondents that work in data and marketing in the UK – and had been invited to judge the DMA Awards 2021.

The data was collected, collated, and analysed by the DMA Insight Department. The survey consisted of a maximum of 27 questions. Unless referenced, all data included in this report is taken from this survey.

If you have any questions about the methodology used in the report, you can contact the DMA’s Research Team via email:

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