Six questions marketing leaders are mulling post-Brexit

Post by Jon Goldstone, former UK VP of marketing for Unilever, now brandgym Managing Partner, Global

As you may have noticed, here in the UK we had a little vote a couple of weeks ago on the subject of Europe. We are now in a period of political turbulence, with each day seemingly seeing a leading figure resigning or being stabbed in the back.

I was asked by Campaign to write about the key questions marketing leaders would be mulling post the announcement of “Brexit”, and the  column is here, with the key points below.

What do I do differently today? Nothing. I’m sure that most businesses will be waiting for the dust to settle and not making any dramatic short-term decisions.

What about the mid-term? With so much still unknown and without a huge amount of pre-referendum contingency planning now is the time that evaluation, modelling and scenario planning will begin in earnest. Corporate lawyers and financial advisors must be anticipating a hay day.

Should I change brand investment levels? There really is no reason to unless your P&L has been hit by the weakening pound and you have no other options to off-set this inflation. This will be the biggest issue for those who import their stock or a big chunk of their raw materials from outside of the UK. For major exporters, I heard Jaguar Land Rover mentioned this week, the opposite could be true.

Should I change my capital investment plans? I suspect many long-term projects which require significant capital investment will be under scrutiny. Many UK based facilities supply both domestic and European markets and with such a big question over the single market it might be that a UK location is suddenly looking less viable.

Where should I base my team? One of the most positive changes that I’ve seen in my marketing career is the increasing diversity of UK based marketing teams. I’m sure that big global businesses won’t want to lose this. If it becomes harder to employ non-British Europeans a number of businesses will be considering whether they should continue to base themselves in the UK.

How should my brands reflect the mood of the nation? Beyond immediate tactical responses I’m sure that many brands will be reflecting on how they want to talk to their consumers. Just as the political establishment (if one survives) needs to better understand the 52% of the population who voted to leave, so do marketers. It is a time to listen.

In conclusion, the common strand in the questions above is a need to focus on the core. In such a dramatic period of uncertainty and change some brands will lose focus. But the winners will be those that seek to understand and adapt to the new reality whilst fundamentally focusing on what first made them famous in the first place.