Adverts are increasingly diverse, ranging from families using various products and promoting their qualities, to a gorilla drumming, a horse dancing and a monkey drinking tea! But, how important is advertising to a product’s brand. Does it have a positive effect on sales and profitability?
The key role of advertising is to sell more products and many firms spend a huge amount on advertising campaigns. Indeed, over £16bn was spent on advertising in 2012. Given that the economy is still vulnerable and many firms have seen their sales and profits decline, this is a huge amount. Procter & Gamble spent over £200 million, British Sky Broadcasting spent £145 million and Tesco spent £114 million in 2011.
Advertising increases consumer awareness of the product and its features, but also actively aims to persuade people to purchase the product. By differentiating the product through adverts a company aims to shift the demand curve to the right and also make it more inelastic, by persuading customers that there are no (or few) close substitutes.
Since the start of the economic downturn in 2008, advertising expenditure has fallen, as companies have seen a decline in their budgets. From a high of £18.61 billion in 2004, the Advertising Association found that it fell to £14.20 billion in 2009 at constant 2008 prices. In the last few years, advertising expenditure has remained at around £14.5 billion. But, is cutting back on advertising a sensible strategy during a recession? Of course budgets are tight for both firms and consumers, but many suggest that media-savvy firms would actually benefit from maintaining their advertising. By doing so firms could take advantage of weaker competitors by increasing their market share and establishing their brand image in the long run.
It’s also important to consider another link between economic growth and advertising. Research suggests that advertising can be an important factor for economic growth. A three-year study undertaken by the Advertising Association and Deloitte, commencing in January 2013 suggests that for every £1 spent on advertising in the UK, £6 is generated for the wider economy. Based on these predictions, the estimated £16bn that was spent on ad campaigns in 2011 added over £100 billion to the UK’s GDP.
So, perhaps encouraging more advertising is the answer to the UK’s economic dilemma. This is certainly the opinion of Matt Barwell, the consumer marketing and innovation director of Diageo Western Europe, who said:
People fundamentally believe in advertising but a lot of the conversation focuses on negative elements. People rarely get the opportunity to talk about the positive role advertising plays in terms of wealth creation, exports and the social benefits that it provides. These are all things that many of us take for granted.
If private firms can therefore be encouraged to boost their marketing campaigns, jobs may be created, demand for products will rise and with the help of the multiplier, the economy may strengthen. Advertising has both pros and cons and opinions differ on what makes a good advert. But, whatever your opinion of the role of advertising, it is certainly an important aspect of any economy. The following articles take a view of advertising.
Could we advertise ourselves out of recession? Marketing Week, Lucy Tesseras (31/1/13)
Advertising in times of recession: A question of value The Open University, Tom Farrell (13/3/09)
Recession spending on advertising and R&D Penn State, Smeal College of Business
Nothing to shout about The Economist (30/7/09)
UK’s payday lenders face restrictions on advertising Reuters (6/3/13)
Value claims improve advertising effectiveness in recessionary times Com Score, Diane Wilson (17/9/13)
Advertising in a bad economy About Advertising, Apryl Duncan
Advertising worth £100bn to UK economy The Telegraph, Graham Ruddick (31/1/13)
Can advertising be the motor that gets the struggling UK economy out of first gear? More about advertising (26/2/13)
Adverts ‘worth £100bn to UK’ Independent, Giddeon Spanier (30/1/13)
Advertising Pays – How advertising fuels the UK economy Advertising Association & Deloitte (30/1/13)
Advertising Pays – How advertising fuels the UK economy: Accompanying video presentation Advertising Association & Deloitte: on YouTube (30/1/13)
- What is the role of advertising?
- Using a demand and supply diagram, illustrate and explain the role of advertising.
- During a recession, why would you expect advertising expenditure to fall? What impact would you expect this to have in your diagram from question 1?
- How might firms that sustain their advertising expenditure during a downturn benefit?
- Explain the link between advertising and the economy.
- Why could a higher level of advertising boost economic growth?
- Are there any negative externalities from advertising?
This autumn has been one of the mildest on record. Whilst this may be very nice for most of us, certain industries have been suffering. For example, gas and electricity consumption is down as people delay turning on their heating. One sector particularly badly hit has been clothing. Sales of winter clothes are substantially down and many retailers are longing for colder weather to boost their sales.
Of course, this is not helped by consumer incomes. With inflation at around 5% and average (pre-tax) weekly earnings currently rising by less than 2%, real incomes are falling. In fact over the year, even nominal disposable incomes are down 2.1%, given the rise in national insurance and income tax. And the problem of falling incomes is compounded by worries over the future state of the economy – whether it will go back into recession, with further falls in real income and rises in unemployment.
It’s no wonder that retailers are longing for some cold weather and for their customers to return from the seaside or their garden barbecues to the shopping malls. Look out for the ‘sales’ signs: they’re beginning to spring up as desperate retailers seek to attract wary customers.
Retailers slash prices in Christmas build-up BBC News, Tim Muffett (25/11/11)
Winter woes: warm weather means shoppers aren’t buying as much Guardian, Zoe Wood (21/11/11)
Shoppers urged to be savvy as Christmas sales last for weeks The Telegraph, Victoria Ward (21/11/11)
Earnings tables: Labour Market Statistics ONS (November 2011)
Personal Income and Wealth ONS
Price Indices and Inflation ONS
Personal Inflation Calculator (PIC) ONS
- Identify the determinants of demand for winter clothing.
- How responsive is demand likely to be to these determinants (a) over a period of a few weeks; (b) over a period of a few months?
- What factors should a retailer take into account when deciding whether to make pre-Christmas discounts?
- Assume that you are employed but are afraid of losing your job in a few months’ time. How would this affect your consumption of (a) seasonal goods; (b) durable goods; (c) day-to-day goods?
- What longer-term strategies could retailers adopt if they predict tough trading conditions over the next two or three years?
Are we heading for ‘perfect storm’ in commodity production and prices? Certainly the prices of many commodities have soared in recent months. These include the prices of foodstuffs such as dairy products, cooking oils and cereals, crude oil, cotton, metals and many other raw materials. The overall world commodity price index has risen by 28% in the past 12 months. The following are some examples of specific commodities:
Price rises in the 12 months to February 2011
• Wheat 62%
• Maize 59%
• Coffee 70%
• Beef 39%
• Sugar 46%
• Palm kernal oil 142%
• Soybean oil 50%
• All food price index 32%
• Crude oil 20%
• Cotton 132%
• Fine wool 55%
• Softwood timber 25%
• Iron ore 78%
• Copper 29%
• Tin 55%
• All metals index 58%
• Rubber 79%.
The problems are both short term and long term, and on both the demand and supply sides; and the effects will be at micro, macro and global levels. Some hard choices lie ahead.
The following webcast, articles and reports explore both the current position and look into the future to ask whether rising commodity prices are likely to continue or even accelerate.
The first link is to a BBC World Debate which considers the following issues: “Is scarcity of natural resources a serious challenge for developing and advanced economies? How great is the risk that scarcity might lead to conflict, both within and between nations? Might a scramble for resources lead to a retreat from globalisation and to greater protectionism?”
World Debate: Resources BBC World Debate, Louise Arbour, President and CEO, International Crisis Group; James Cameron, Global Agenda Council on Climate Change; He Yafei, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of China to the UN; Malini Mehra, Founder and CEO, Centre for Social Markets; Kevin Rudd, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Australia (19/1/11)
Global Food Prices Continue to Rise Reuters, Steve Savage (7/3/11)
The 2011 oil shock The Economist (3/3/11)
Global Food Prices Will Probably Be Sustained at Record This Year, UN Says Bloomberg, Supunnabul Suwannaki (9/3/11)
Food prices to stay high as oil costs, weather weigh livemint.com, Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat (9/3/11)
‘Perfect storm’ threatens agriculture in developing nations Manila Bulletin, Lilybeth G. Ison (9/3/11)
IMF sees no immediate respite from high food prices Commodity Online (7/3/11)
Drought, supply, speculation drive world food prices to record high NZ Catholic (8/3/11)
The Factors Affecting Global Food Prices Seeking Alpha, David Hunkar (7/3/11)
World food prices climb to record as UN sounds alarm on further shortages FnBnews (India), Rudy Ruitenberg (9/3/11)
Food crisis: It’s a moral issue for all of us New Straits Times (Malaysia), Rueben Dudley (8/3/11)
Oil prices: Green light from the black stuff Guardian (5/3/11)
Cotton hits $2 a pound Guardian, Terry Macalister (17/2/11)
Supermarkets are raising prices faster than inflation, says UBS The Telegraph, Philip Aldrick (1/3/11)
What next for commodity prices? BBC News, Jamie Robertson (5/5/11)
FAO Cereal Supply and Demand BriefFood & Agriculture Organization, United Nations (March 2011)
Rising Prices on the Menu Finance & Development (IMF), Thomas Helbling and Shaun Roache (March 2011)
Commodity prices Index Mundi
Commodities Financial Times, market data
- Identify the various factors that are causing rises in commodity prices. In each case state whether they are supply-side or demand-side factors.
- How can the price elasticity of demand and supply, the income elasticity of demand and the cross-price elasticity of demand be used to analyse the magnitude of the price rises?
- To what extent are rising food prices the result of (a) short-term (i.e. reversible) factors; (b) long-term trends?
- Why are food prices in the shops rising faster in the UK than in many other countries?
- To what extent is the future of food security and prices and moral issues?
- Why may current oil price rises become an opportunity for the future?
- What might be the respective roles be of government, business and consumers in responding to natural resource constraints?
The annual Agricultural Outlook for the next ten years has just been published jointly by the OECD and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Click here and here for audio presentations of the report by the FAO’s Jacques Diouf and the OECD’s Angel Gurría.
The report argues that world recovery will raise agricultural prices. This will be partly the direct result of higher demand and partly the result of higher prices of agricultural inputs, such as fertilisers and fuel. But prices will not rise back to the peak levels of 2007/8. These higher prices, however, would have a positive effect on world food output, especially in the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China). This, in turn, would limit the price rises.
So is this good news for food producers and consumers? The following articles look at the issues
Economic upturn, energy to lift farm prices-FAO/OECD Reuters, Gus Trompiz (15/6/10)
Higher average farm prices expected, food security concerns persist, say OECD and FAO FAO Media Centre (15/6/10)
Food commodity prices to rise Financial Times, Javier Blas (15/6/10)
Price increases fuel fears of food ‘crises’ Financial Times, Javier Blas (15/6/10)
Emerging economies ‘to enjoy food production boom’ BBC News (15/6/10)
Rising crop prices can be ‘good news’ for farmers: UN/OECD MSN News, Malaysia (15/6/10)
Food prices to rise by up to 40% over next decade, UN report warns Guardian (15/6/10)
Wheat, oils and dairy prices to stay up 40% for next decade, FAO BakeryAndSnacks.com, Jess Halliday (15/6/10)
Food prices could soar up by 40 per cent in next decade, UN report warns UN News Centre (15/6/10)
Report and data
OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2010-2019: portal page OECD and FAO
OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2010-2019: Highlights OECD and FAO
OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2010-2019: Database OECD and FAO
Commodity prices Index Mundi
- Explain what is likely to happen to food prices. What are the explanations given in the report?
- Represent the analysis on a supply and demand diagram (or diagrams).
- What is the relevance of (a) income elasticity of demand, (b) price elasticity of demand, (c) cross-price elasticity of demand, (d) price elasticity of supply, in explaining the likely future movements of food prices and why some food prices are likely to rise faster than others?
- What factors are likely to impact on the production of food in developing countries?
This podcast is from BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. It consists of an interview with James Berresford, chief executive of VisitEngland, and Tracy Corrigan, of the Daily Telegraph on the topic of ‘staycations’ – a term used to refer to people holidaying at home rather than going abroad. Staycations are up, but why is this the case; how much have people switched; and is it really a cheaper option?
More people holidaying in England BBC Today Programme (27/8/09)
See also the following articles:
Unemployment Up In Seaside Resorts Despite Era Of The ‘Staycation’ Fresh Business Thinking (22/8/09)
Unemployment up in seaside resorts despite era of the ‘staycation’ TUC (21/8/09)
Haven Holidays sees rise in caravan sales Times Online (26/8/09)
‘Staycation’ Britons reconsider their holiday plans The National (Abu Dhabi) (28/8/09)
Recession-hit Britons abandon foreign holidays in favour of ‘staycations’ Guardian (13/8/09)
Bad weather puts paid to the Great British Staycation Independent on Sunday (22/8/09)
The following are useful sources of evidence:
Visits to the UK up 4 per cent Office for National Statistics News Release (13/8/09)
1.2 Million More Holidays Taken In England As Brits Take Breaks Closer To Home enjoyEngland (7/8/09)
11.9 million Brits to take U.K break this Bank Holiday enjoyEngland (26/8/09)
- What are the determinants of demand for staycations? How have these impacted on the demand for staycations in the UK in summer 2009?
- How are the (a) price; (b) income and (c) cross-price elasticities of demand for staycations relevant in determining the demand for staycations?
- Why is imperfect information an important problem in making a decision about where to take a holiday and how do risk attitudes affect the decision?
- Why has unemployment risen more than the UK national average in many seaside towns?