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Competition from consultancies has strategists looking outside their roles at agencies, with almost two-thirds (63%) saying they do not expect their next role to be with an agency, per The Future of Strategy 2019 [download page] from WARC. That being said, about half (52%) of the nearly 800 strategists surveyed say they expect the size of their planning/strategy team grow in the coming year.

Strategists are also optimistic about their influence within their agencies. Some 55% say they have more influence in their agency than they did last year, with only 11% saying that they have less influence than a year ago. Furthermore, the optimism spills over to influence within their accounts, with more than half (53%) saying they feel they have more influence among clients than they did a year ago.

Strategists are also seeing more of their work focused on customer experience, with nearly half (48%) saying they are doing more customer experience work for clients than before and only 9% saying they are doing less. This may be somewhat due to companies and brands seeing the opportunity in optimizing the customer experience, while also being challenged with developing the capabilities within their organization to design, deliver and monitor customer experience.

WARC also reports that just about one-quarter of respondents indicate that their work for direct-to-consumer brands has increased.

The report shows there are different schools of thought among strategists when it comes to data. Some advise making data and analytics a key part of a planner’s skill base, while others take the view that strategists shouldn’t obsess over data and should instead focus on softer skills, like the ability to talk to people and empathize. Either way, an overwhelming majority of respondents say they either agree (31%) or strongly agree (61%) that they would do a better job if their clients gave them more access to data.

A sample report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of almost 800 strategists.

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