Plural’s Annual Marketing Spend Outlook study aims to provide a truly comprehensive view of B2B and B2C marketing spend, how it’s evolving and what trends are driving this.

Based on data gathered in November 2022, this study provides a comprehensive view of B2B and B2C marketing spend across channels and an outlook for 2023-2026.

An uncertain economic outlook is causing marketers to rethink priorities and temper budget growth

Just as marketers looked towards a period of normality after the COVID-19 disruption, the deteriorating economic outlook is causing marketers to rethink their priorities.

As budgets face greater scrutiny, marketers are expected to focus on proving marketing efficiency and effectiveness as much as driving new customer growth.

Plural expects continued growth in marketing spend in the near term. However, forecast annual growth rates are significantly below the growth of the previous two years and are below inflation forecasts.

Marketers will focus spend on activities that demonstrate high ROI

Spend allocations within marketing budgets are changing as a result of these shifting priorities. This will likely lead to some winners such as content syndication, a reversal of the post-covid bump for broadcast and print, and areas of spend with more complex dynamics such as paid social and events.

Marketers are seeking flexibility to prepare for further economic disruption

With only 50% of budget allocations in 2023 committed, a significant decline vs 2022. Any worsening of economic conditions could see budget reductions.

Conventional thinking suggests ROI will determine spend allocations. However, the flexibility that is possible in digital channels and with agency spend could also see greater fluctuations in these categories, as marketers react quickly to budgetary pressures.

Acceleration towards the data-driven marketer

While the focus on marketing efficiency and effectiveness has increased due to economic uncertainty, these themes have been prevalent over the past five years.

The shift towards digitization is generating more data for marketers. In turn, marketers are being pushed by the wider organisation to prove return, while also complying with stricter data privacy measures.

As a result, marketers’ mindsets are becoming more pragmatic, data-orientated, and flexible. This enables them to capture, justify and allocate budgets most effectively in a more challenging macro environment.

Download the 2023 Marketing Spend Outlook

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The study includes analysis and commentary on the following:


The 2023 Marketing Spend Outlook was led by Jonathan Dufton and Jim Easton. Plural team members who contributed to this research and analysis include Alex Holt, Tanish Gupta, Monique Dunne, Matthew Beazeley and Teresa Boulting.

UK Marketing Spend Outlook

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2024 findings