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2021 Alternatives MII Survey Report

Download your copy here

Download your copy of the 2021 Alternatives & MII Salary, Market Insights & Sentiment Survey​

It is the largest and most robust survey of its kind and provides a unique insight into Ireland’s marketing industry and community. 

Download the full 2021 survey results here:


Contact us

Please get in touch at hello@alternatives.ie if you would like a bespoke presentation for your team. We have a lot of detail by sector. 


Key Survey findings

I/ Market Sentiment & Outlook

Market place badly hit and Covid impacted hugely. It was a very tough year on most businesses- 49% negative impact. But impact was felt more at earlier stages (70-80% negative impact in 2020), then less as companies and people adapted. That said it has had a positive business impact on 1 in 5 respondents businesses in sectors such as agri, tech, e-commerce, retail and logistics.

Brexit expected to impact negatively for 33% but less negative than a year ago (45%) and 56% expect better trading in the 12m ahead.

The Hiring outlook is also more positive and 65% will hire a little or a lot this year, a big improvement on last year. Travel, media & publishing, manufacturing, FMCG and financial services sectors are least likely to hire and tech, pharma, healthcare, gaming, are most likely.

II/ Employment, salaries and benefits

Employment has been impacted, but it is better now than in the 6 months post Covid.

Following a number of months last year with high temporary layoffs in several sectors, there are 4% of respondents unemployed or on temporary layoff now. Tourism, media & publishing and agencies were the hardest hit last year. Those at senior level were impacted the least and those at career entry level, the most.

Salaries have also been impacted by Covid. Many were impacted temporarily throughout the year, but by January 10% of respondents had a salary decrease.  However 44% did get an increase in salary, although much of this might have been in place by the time covid hit in mid March.   

Benefits are similar to last year, despite Covid, with more getting healthcare now. there is also less disparity in benefits between males and females, which had been the case in our previsu annual survey. Bonuses remain at similar levels too.

III/ Diversity

Just one in five respondents consider their companies or functions to be very diverse, with most (63%) considering it somewhat diverse. Although most feel that they are quite diverse in gender and age, diversity in ethnicity and physical ability score very low.  Larger, multinationals are better. Smaller Irish owned companies have a longer way to go.

Gender dimension

There are 1.8 females for every male, unchanged from last year, with less of a differential at director level. Male respondents continue to be paid more on average than their female counterparts, with the exception of the first stage of their career. The differential then increases the more senior the career level, up to director level when the differential reaches 9%, or an average of €12k.

IV/Engagement

Despite a tough year, personal engagement is up and overall personal engagement rating of 63/100. Directors and heads of level are most engaged; practitioners and support level are much less so. Half expect to move on from their company within 2 years.

Key factors in driving engagement are working in a meaningful role and to work alongside great colleagues, and with a great boss. Earlier career stage respondents, who particularly value this people interaction, are much less engaged and coping less well overall. 

People rated their level of coping personally with Covid at 63/100. Directors are coping much better (70/100) than most junior levels (55/100) and this needs to be carefully monitored in the months ahead.

Place of Work Polices for 2021

94% are still working remotely now. 58% of companies will operate a blended policy going forward.  15% will work full-time from home on an ongoing basis. Flexible, blended working policies will be key in motivating and managing expectations of staff in the months ahead.

V/The evolving marketing role and focus

Marketing role is considered somewhat more strategic than in the last annual survey. 63% felt that marketing played a strategic, revenue generating role in their organisation, in particular those sectors that are very brand and consumer focused.  

We see an increase in shared responsibilities with other functions, in areas such as business strategy and customer experience, and a resultant need for broad business, ROI and customer focused skillsets as well and strong stakeholder skills.  

As a result of Covid and Brexit for certain sectors, marketers are now operating with tighter resources. Teams and budgets are small and smaller than in our last survey. 45% teams are of 5 people or less, compared to 42% end 2019.

Budget sizes remain small and 46% plan to spend €500k or less. 28% plan to decrease budgets further this year. Key areas of spend will be digital content, PPC/SEO and above the line communications.   

VI/ The Outlook

From a marketing and a resourcing perspective, there is some light at the end of the tunnel, after a very tough year for businesses and for people personally.

Some sectors have been hugely impacted and recovery will be complex. But others have adapted, pivoted or benefited from the crisis. 

Businesses will need the skill sets that a strong, strategic marketing function can bring- customer insights to understand and guide them, clear strategic planning, brand and product optimisation, digital transformation skills. An ability to communicate, engage with customers and ultimately to provide a strong return on investment.

As team managers and leaders we need to really focus on employees wellbeing. Not all are coping in this crisis and as the lockdown extends many are being pushed to their limits, especially those at earliest career stage. We need to find ways to support and help them navigate their companies and their careers in the months ahead.

Survey information: 2021 Salary, Market Insights & Sentiment Survey, run by Alternatives in conjunction with the Marketing Institute of Ireland.

It is the largest annual survey of its kind, with over 850 respondents from the marketing, digital and commercial community. It provides cross sectoral and benchmarked data on employment, salaries, benefits, engagement and diversity. Critically, at a time of so much change brought about by Covid and Brexit, it tracks sentiment in the market and at a personal level. It explores the evolving and critical role of marketing.

Survey conducted 7th-31st January 2021.