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Marketer Confidence Rebounds to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Marketer Confidence Rebounds to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Joris Zwegers

rebounding light beams

The latest edition of the Marketers’ Confidence Index shows renewed optimism in consumer spending, marketing budget outlook and investment climate

Marketer optimism has reached its highest level in the past five years. The Marketers’ Confidence Index has risen significantly since early 2021 and indicates that most marketers have shed all caution for the near future, with media, innovation and creative expected to see the biggest budget increases.

marketer confidence index

For the past five years, the American Marketing Association and Kantar have measured marketing leaders’ confidence in spending, their organizations’ budget efforts and the strength of the U.S. economy. In mid-2020, the MCI reached its lowest point yet: 82. Since then, marketers have exhibited cautious optimism, until this edition’s improved score of 129, the index’s highest mark since July 2018. The July 2021 index surveyed 245 marketing professionals encompassing all levels of their organizations, across multiple industries.

Marketers’ confidence has clearly rebounded despite the U.S. still being steeped in the pandemic, but how does this break down into the different areas that compose the index? The survey is constructed of questions on:

  • Perceptions of past and future six-month consumer spending
  • Perceptions of the current investment climate
  • Past and expected future six-month changes in marketing budgets

Consumer Spending

past customer spending
future customer spending

Perceptions of the past six months, as expected, have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels—marketers have still perceived decreases in spending, despite a high increase mark (49%). Regardless, the outlook for the next six months is as optimistic as it has been in the past five years.

Investment Climate

investment climate

Marketers are generally very optimistic about whether additional large-scale investments are the right choice for their organization, and their sentiment has only further improved, putting it generally in line with pre-pandemic levels.

Marketing Budgets

past marketing budget
future marketing budget

During the height of the pandemic, marketing budgets were cut by a majority of organizations while major events or initiatives were postponed or canceled. In January, there was already evidence of marketers’ current and anticipated budgets rebounding, and that development has continued. The degree of optimism for future budget increases is at the highest level we’ve seen in the past five years.

If budgets are indeed increased, the additional money will most likely end up on the media placement, innovation or new product development, and creative side. However, it doesn’t appear that any catch-up for postponed or canceled sponsorships or collaborations will materialize.

Results from the question, “If your organization’s marketing budget were suddenly increased by 10%, where would you allocate the additional budget?” (Percentages shown are the relative amount each of these would receive.)


Data from the Marketers’ Confidence Index survey shows that marketers are very optimistic for the near future and more so than ever expect to see higher marketing budgets in the near future, with additional budget most likely spent on media, innovation and creative.

Joris Zwegers is a Partner at the Consulting Division of Kantar