Agencies are often reluctant to reveal the proportion of their
revenue derived from particular business sectors. And understandably so,
given that an agency is only likely to work for one brewer, one tobacco
company or one detergent manufacturer, because of conflicts of interest.
It wouldn’t take astute competitors long to work out the value of their
most important contracts.
Fortunately, the vast majority of field marketing agencies have been
willing to provide this information in confidence, for aggregation by
Marketing. The companies providing the data account for almost 85% of
the industry’s turnover, as represented by the league table. Thus we can
say with some confidence that the chart above, while understating some
segments, presents a pretty accurate picture of who is using field
It has also been possible this year to include comparable figures from
last year’s table. This shows very clearly the rapid expansion currently
being enjoyed by the industry, even allowing for the fact that there are
more participants this year.
Packaged goods is where field marketing originated, and this sector
still provides the bedrock for the industry. Food and confectionery,
alcohol, soft drinks, tobacco and other groceries, plus the work done
under contract to retailers and cash-and-carry outlets by their own
nominated agencies, account for at least pounds 137m of field marketing
expenditure. That compares with pounds 121m for all the other sectors
But there are signs that different clients are catching up, as most of
the packaged goods segments, such as food and confectionery, alcohol and
tobacco, increased their spend by 25% to 30% over the past year.
That catch-all category, ’other grocery’, doubled its use of field
CPM commercial director Mike Hughes points to Gillette as an example of
a client that has increased its spend with the agency in existing areas,
but also found additional money to target other channels.
But expenditure by retailers and cash-and-carries with their retained
field marketers appears to have been largely static. This may reflect
the fact that the multiples are now more welcoming to suppliers’ field
Growth rates are more spectacular elsewhere. The financial services
sector, for instance, appears to have quadrupled its involvement - up
from about pounds 3.6m to over pounds 15m. Some of this undoubtedly
reflects the huge premium collection contract Prudential has placed with
FMCG. But there is other evidence from around the industry.
SMC Field Marketing, for example, which was only founded in 1999,
secured American Express’ UK credit card acquisition programme last
summer, in a pitch against five other agencies. Since then it has
expanded its direct-selling activity by taking on work for Morgan
Stanley Dean Witter and Bank of Ireland.
Lloyds TSB has re-appointed CPM for what Hughes describes as ’some new
types of work’. But it has also added The Russell Organisation to its
list of suppliers.
The Russell Organisation is best known for specialising in the motor
industry. But managing director Rob Allen says: ’We now find
non-automotive clients are approaching us because they can see how our
experience can help them.’
And the motor industry itself - despite, or arguably because of, a very
competitive marketplace - has increased spend on field marketing by
about 45%. ’What is pleasing to us is that our automotive clients see
live and face-to-face programmes as being every bit as important to
their sales as, say, a major above-the-line campaign,’ adds Allen. ’For
high interest, high-ticket items, such as cars, consumers really want to
see, touch and feel the product.’
Field marketing, not the easiest discipline to define, is estimated to
account for just one-fifth of The Russell Organisation’s total
The group is also active in areas such as sales promotion and
advertising, and through its partner agency, Teamworks Russell, is
probably the largest supplier of promotion staff to the Birmingham
International Motor Show.
This focus on the automotive sector, says Allen, ’ensures that any field
marketing programmes are a genuinely integral part of the overall
effort, and not a bolt-on to other promotional activities’.
McCann-Erickson’s subsidiary, Momentum on the Move, meanwhile, has been
working with Saab on a test-drive programme run through airports,
offices and the dealer network. ’The use of field marketing techniques
allows targeted customers to truly experience the brand, at the same
time helping Saab to build its database and develop a face-to-face
relationship with potential buyers,’ says Momentum chief executive Tracy
Given the fiercely competitive market situations in conventional
telephone networks and mobile phones, home computers, utilities, and
home entertainment, from digital TV to videos and DVD, it is hardly
surprising that field marketing is very buoyant in all these sectors.
Two of them, utilities and entertainment, are analysed in greater detail
in separate articles later in the report (see pages 47 and 48).
Home calling has proven a very useful technique in both telecoms and
utilities. It seems there is a strong case for it, too, in home
After all, both loading a PC and getting to grips with its potential are
daunting tasks for the inexperienced.
’We have people going to customers’ homes, either to install or,
preferably, coach,’ says Richard Thompson, chairman of Mosaic Technology
The agency specialises in field marketing for high-tech clients, and has
established a Homecoach division.
’Things like how to access the internet, how to cut out stuff they don’t
want their children to see - these are extensions of what we are
providing in-store,’ he adds. ’The biggest challenge is that there is so
little margin, the vendors can’t provide the fee. It may be that it will
be part-supported by the internet service providers, because once you
have set someone up with e-mail and so on, they will be unlikely to want
to change their ISP.
’But we will only make money from this once it generates big volume.
When we can push the volumes up, it could be phenomenal.’
Business-to-business is the only area to show a substantial drop
year-on-year. But one of the problems here is definition. It seems that
a number of field marketing programmes in telecoms, utilities, IT and
the automotive sector, which began by targeting the consumer, are now
being extended into the business-to-business sector. It is probable that
they are being reported under those industry-specific headings, rather
than the more general one of business-to-business.
The chart above has been limited to the top 15 applications for field
marketing, but it’s worth noting that some of those that miss the cut
are still enjoying healthy growth, including travel, catering, DIY and
There are also grounds for thinking that travel is one of the sectors
that is under-reported, given that one of the companies that has
declined to provide an analysis of its turnover is known to be strong in