An exclusive survey of 500 UK marketing employers by recruitment firm Michael Page found that nearly a third (29%) of respondents named 'brand' as the most important function of a marketing team to help grow business in 2013, up from 19% in 2012.
Online and web development dropped from first in last year's survey to joint-second, alongside CRM, with 21% of marketers deeming it their most vital asset. Social-media and mobile skills also declined in value among senior marketers, down one third from 9% to 6%.
The relegation of digital could be attributable in part to the extent to which it has become embedded in the marketing function.
Paul Sykes, managing director of Michael Page, said the shift may be linked to the 'cautious and competitive' state of the market, where 'brand differentiation' is now vital to drive market share.
At the other end of the scale, staff retention was voted as important by only 5% of marketers. With business growth being voted the top priority by the majority (57%) of respondents, Sykes warned of the danger of undervaluing staff.
Salary confidence has also taken a hit. Some 59% of respondents expected salaries to increase in 2013, down from 67% the previous year. Half of those taking part believed their employers were either not going to pay bonuses or were unsure about paying them.
'The good news is that, for marketing professionals, retention isn't just about financial rewards,' added Sykes. 'In fact, the majority of this year's respondents [54%] believe that a positive working environment can be the most effective retention strategy.'