Industry Outlook

As the 2020s began, more companies required the services of marketing consultants for help in developing marketing strategies, forecasting sales, and developing and pricing new products. In 2021, there were nearly 232,482 marketing consultant businesses in the United States, as reported by the research group IBISWorld. Steady growth is expected in the marketing consultant industry through 2025, following five years of growth at an annual rate of 4 percent. As the industry matures, growth will be somewhat slower compared to recent years. However, excellent opportunities will still exist, especially for consultants with a specialized focus.

The coronavirus pandemic presented the marketing industry with many challenges in early 2020, including mandatory business lockdowns and social distancing requirements. Many marketing companies responded to these challenges by having employees work remotely, reducing or postponing in-person activities, as well as reducing budgets. Consumer demand for digital content increased tremendously during the pandemic, with people spending more time at home using various devices for work, school, shopping, entertainment, and other activities. According to an article in Marketing Dive, a priority for marketers that has grown since the pandemic is to make personal connections with consumers in new ways. Other priorities that emerged in 2020 and are projected to continue in the marketing industry include having a more activist mindset in consumer-facing messages and having a more human-centric approach to marketing strategies. The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 will help the economy recover and people return to in-store shopping, however, online shopping had been growing prior to the pandemic and is expected to continue post pandemic. Major brand marketers will continue to invest heavily in e-commerce and direct-to-consumer strategies.

The market research industry brought in $23 billion in revenue in 2019, according to an IBISWorld report. There were more than 44,000 market research businesses, with nearly 140,000 employees. Growth in this industry has been strong thanks to healthy spending in areas such as research and development and Internet advertising. The increased use of social media is also expected to contribute to growth in this industry in the years to come, giving market researchers more ways to conduct their research.

Companies will continue to need marketing services as they look for ways to improve their corporate strategies and organizational designs. As a result, the outlook for the marketing industry is bright. The Department of Labor predicts 8 percent employment growth, which is faster than the average, for marketing managers through 2028. The Internet and social media have expanded the reach of marketing and advertising campaigns, and marketing and promotions managers who are digital savvy will have the best prospects for finding work.

Much faster than average employment growth is expected for market research analysts through 2028, with 139,200 new jobs added by then. Many industries now use data and market research to better understand their customers’ wants and needs, and to learn more about consumer behavior. This research helps companies to fine-tune their marketing strategies, which in turn helps them improve their products, services, relationship with customers, and sales. They may also use market research to determine store locations and product placement. Market research analysts who have a master’s degree in marketing, market research, statistics, or business administration will have the advantage in the job market.

Mobile devices have changed where marketers focus their attention. By mid-2019, the Pew Research Center estimated that 96 percent of Americans owned a cell phone and 81 percent owned a smartphone (up from 35 percent in 2011). As more people get their entertainment and information from smartphones and tablets, marketers can target brands with more personalized messages for customers. This shift in marketing tactics is expected to continue in the years to come. Marketers also will focus on using social media to build relationships between customers and brands. Because of the shift from print to digital, marketers’ writing and editing skills will become more important than ever before.

One of the biggest challenges marketing professionals will experience is keeping up with technology trends, particularly with the tools they use to accomplish their jobs. For instance, new and improved business intelligence tools (software for spreadsheets, data mining, visual analytics, etc.) will be introduced and market researchers will be expected to be well versed in these tools. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools will also be improved and introduced in the coming years. Marketing companies use CRM tools to manage and analyze customer interactions and data, with the aim of retaining customers, driving more sales and interactions, and improving and building business relationships with customers.

Privacy is another issue that marketing companies will continue to tackle. People have become more aware and concerned about how their information is used, particularly when they are online. In its Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2019–2023, PwC observed that leading media platforms continued to focus on delivering more personalized experiences to customers. This was accomplished through the use of artificial intelligence and algorithms that tried to make predictions and offer suggestions. "Although this individualised media world is steadily coalescing around the consumer, the transformation isn’t yet complete," the firm explained. "For example, PwC’s research shows that consumers are still dissatisfied with the recommendations from their streaming services. Real challenges surrounding the treatment and ownership of personal information are spurring regulators around the world to catch up, and put pressure on companies to adapt to new privacy regimes."