Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Has the pre-Budget report been good for you?

Our panellists were not impressed by Chancellor Alistair Darling's statement, describing it variously as a cynical vote-getting tactic and a 'kick in the teeth' for the already struggling UK beer industry.


We gauge the impact of any economic change by the way it affects our clients. There is a link between their prosperity and ours. Every one of our clients has been adversely affected in some way over the past few months - it's all a question of degree.

The pre-Budget announcement, while it is an attempt to reverse the downward spiral (and as such should be applauded), may not be enough to address the very deep-rooted worries that many consumers have. A few per cent off VAT does not make up for the threat of redundancy, mortgage default and so on. Such anxieties are real.

However, those customers who are still willing to spend, even if more modestly, will migrate to strong brands, great value and a good experience. One of our clients has improved its online shopping channel and seen a 60% increase over the past six weeks, and, ultimately, that helps us.


Carry on, doctor ... Dr Gordon and Nurse Darling are desperately trying to restart the economy's heart after cardiac arrest caused by recession and the credit crisis.

Their defibrillator has two charges - one monetary, the other fiscal. Interest rates have been slashed and the Bank of England is printing money. Taxes will be cut and public investment increased to revive consumer spending.

Having let the patient die through inattention, they are determined to bring it back from the dead in time for the next election. The fact that the 'cure' will result in long-term health problems is of no concern.

It is clear that these measures are directed at socio-demographic groups most likely to vote Labour 18 months from now. Public-sector workers, pensioners, the unemployed and the low-paid benefit most. The economic stimulus will favour brands targeting these groups. Value for money and retailers' own-label offers in food and drink categories will benefit most of all. Luxury goods and consumer durables should pack up and become tax exiles.


The report contained limited measures to support homeowners and mortgage-lending. Its property potential will depend more on how successfully it stimulates consumer confidence.

What the property market needs most is for banks to start lending into the property sector again, at favourable rates. While the property we handle is in the more premium sector, we are dependent on movement starting from the bottom up.

In marketing terms, we are targeting buyers much more, emphasising our web activity, where we know buyers start their searches. We are communicating with positive realism, saying there is still a market out there, albeit reduced, for realistic sellers and buyers who want or have to move. It's also at a time like this that the more experienced and professional agents shine. We are working our databases, relationships and market knowledge to put deals together. It's hard work, but we have a more differentiated offering, so there is plenty to build on in brand-communication terms.


The pre-Budget report has not brought good news for beer brands and brewers, and this latest duty increase comes after the chancellor implemented a 4p-a-pint increase in March - effectively increasing tax on alcohol by a massive 17% this year.

Having announced above-inflation increases for the next four years, this is another kick in the teeth for the brewing industry, particularly coming at a time of rising raw-material costs, five pub closures a day and consumers cutting back their spending on alcohol.

What makes it all the more difficult to swallow, though, is that beer seems to have been singled out for particularly rough treatment by the government and is now the most heavily taxed alcoholic beverage.

This appears a short-sighted approach to take, given that these duty hikes will almost certainly reduce the beer industry's sales further and, as a consequence, reduce revenue for the Chancellor's coffers.

- For more discussion, visit marketingmagazine.co.uk

- The Marketing Society is the most influential network of senior marketers dedicated to championing marketing in the UK.


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