Welcome to the Inaugural Annual Franchise Marketing Report (AFMR)!
Franchising's increasingly competitive landscape has strengthened the need for marketers to better understand how their brand measures up against the competition. The new report provides franchise marketing leaders with data and analysis they can use to benchmark their brand's performance against that of other brands, both within franchising and within their industry sectors.
Brands participating in this first AFMR represented more than 13,000 locations, $8.3 billion in annual revenue, and $131 million in annual marketing budgets. Diane Phibbs, EVP & Chief Content Officer at Franchise Update Media, presented highlights from the report this past June at the 2019 Franchise Marketing Leadership Conference.
The participants were franchise marketing leaders who completed an in-depth online questionnaire. Responses were aggregated and analyzed to produce a detailed look into the marketing practices, budgets, and strategies of a wide cross-section of franchise brands. The data and accompanying commentary and analysis provide the basis of the 2019 AFMR. Below are selected highlights from the AFMR.
- More than half (55%) reported that they reach their customers through both B2B and B2C channels, requiring them to modify their marketing messages and platforms to reach both sectors.
- Participating brands represented all product and service segments in franchising. Brick- and-mortar service (34%) and food (29%), were the two largest categories.
- Seven in 10 respondents reported that leads or traffic count were up (56%) or the same (15%) in 2019, while only 22% responded that they were down. Despite today's economy and tight employment picture, this indicated positive business conditions for the majority of respondents at the local level.
- To engage their customers, marketers have implemented an integrated, omnichannel marketing strategy. Respondents reported a somewhat balanced spend - with the exception of digital advertising, which played the largest role in their overall budget mix. Social media and websites were the next two leading categories.
- Digging deeper into the digital category, we asked participants how they spend their digital dollars and what's performing for them. While PPC accounted for the highest spending percentage, SEO performed best in terms of how respondents ranked the effectiveness of their digital marketing spend, outpacing all other digital categories.
- Social media has become known as a cost-efficient way to engage customers in conversations with your brand. It's no surprise that respondents cited Facebook as their primary platform for marketing spend (86%) and for driving revenue (83%). One surprising statistic was the use of Instagram for advertising (59%), yet only 13% said it was driving revenue.
- Three of four (74%) respondents had a national advertising fund, and 1 in 3 (32%) had a co-op/regional advertising fund. The nature and amount of ad fund contributions are changing, along with how the money is spent (creative and production, national or local, print or social, etc.).
- Three of four respondents require or recommend spending on local marketing. What was surprising is that nearly six in 10 (57%) of the brands responding did not have systems to ensure that each location was spending at the local level. And only 39% had franchisees submit local marketing spend reports and/or receipts to corporate, while 4% had a third-party reporting program.
- In the previous 12 months, 51% of brands increased the size of their marketing departments and 40% stayed the same; only 9% reduced the size of their marketing teams. The most positions added were in digital and general marketing. With the increased emphasis brands are placing on digital marketing (see above), it's a positive sign to see specialists added in this area.
- Today's consumers want to have an experience with your brand, to feel they are part of something special. Accordingly, customer experience has become a huge focus for brands looking to identify the processes, metrics, and responsibility for the guest experience. While nearly half (45%) reported that multiple departments manage this, slightly more (47%) said they had no process or model for this. About a third (35%) said operations had sole responsibility for the customer experience, but only 15% said marketing was responsible.
- Seven in 10 participants said they mystery shopped their competition in the previous 12 months - but only 37% shopped their own brand. With franchisors' growing emphasis on differentiating themselves through the customer experience they deliver, we should begin to see this latter number increase. This feedback will allow brands to adjust their customer experience program to meet the real-time needs of their customers.
- Marketers face a broad range of challenges we'll be monitoring in the coming years. Current challenges are no surprise: differentiation from competition, rising costs, limited budgets, ROI, more channels to choose from, more content to manage, etc.
Conclusion and Ordering Information
This brand-new source of critical marketing data will provide marketers with the opportunity to benchmark their brand's marketing performance, discover new opportunities; anticipate changes occurring within their industry segments of franchising; and better position their brands to achieve their marketing goals.
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