The Brexit vote last June sent shock waves through Britain, and plummeted the value of the GBP. Many felt that our own manufacturing would be stronger as a result of Brexit, but financial industries feared the worst. Others have worried about the UK’s position on a more global scale in terms of defense, the effect of outsourcing products, and profit margins overall. Brexit will inevitably alter Britain's relationship with the outside world - even if only nominally - but what impact will it have on the digital marketing industry? And with a General Election called suddenly for the 8th of June, how will that impact businesses too?
Theresa May’s reason to call an election has been seen as a power move, intended to create more conservative seats in Parliament in support of a hard Brexit.
Here are some potential impacts on the digital marketing industry:
Businesses Leaving the UK
A number of companies are planning to jump ship because of Brexit, but it’s not all doom and gloom (to be idiomatic). Many tech companies are out, but for other industries, fewer companies in the UK also means less competition. Many of the companies that will move out of Britain mostly do much of their business outside of the UK, so it makes sense for those companies. But for digital marketing, the industry is already competitive, and any good agency knows how to stay ahead of the opposition and win accounts.
For companies who mostly work within the UK and larger global market, most likely the change will strengthen the services of those companies, especially as Brexit may drive a new level of patriotism, reviving the old “Buy British” campaigns of the past.
Nevertheless, if Europe plays hard ball, it’s predicted that the conservatives will not hesitate to make the UK more tax efficient to attract larger companies (as Ireland have done). This decision would have a huge impact on marketing jobs in the UK (and other industries), and could see more US companies basing themselves here. As a result, marketing opportunities - digital and otherwise - would abound.
Even with Brexit, Britain will have to attract industries to its shores with incentives of some sort, so despite the rocky pound, independence from the European Union shouldn’t spell crippling uncertainty for businesses, especially in mostly online services like in digital marketing.
Furthermore, digital marketing exists because the industry realises that when it’s time to change, it’s time to change - no use holding onto antiquated, comfortable ways. As the now famous (yet unused) wartime propaganda poster remarks: Keep Calm and Carry On! Britain’s business leaders are resilient, and digital industries are adaptive. Plus, a business’ physical location matters little in the tech-age.
Plummeting Pound Means More Attractive Goods
Britain is known for quality goods, services, and culture; with the pound at a low, businesses and buyers will see now as the time to purchase previously expensive products and services as they will be good value for money with current exchange rates.
The drop in the pound saw the UK as the cheapest luxury goods market and sales skyrocketed. For digital marketing, the favorable exchange rate may see businesses flocking to the UK for cheaper, yet high-quality services.
The blip for digital marketing will come in the form of confusing market research data. When creating your target personas, the general election can muddy your results. Market research looks at intention and observation (asking people what they’re going to do/think, and studying human behaviour); however, in our digital age, when there’s so much online backlash, people may be afraid or embarrassed to express true opinion, or people may act in ways that are outliers to data-modeling algorithms cannot interpret the data. Since every industry in some way has a level of marketing, digital marketing industries need to be more careful with their output - really understand how what they say can be interpreted by a larger audience with different political beliefs and socio-economic status.
If you are part of the civil service sector, make sure that when you’re posting on social media, you're not breaching any restrictions. With any pre-election period, Purdah comes into effect until a party is elected.
Purdah comes from the Persian word meaning “veil” (protecting women’s modesty from the world), and is the time between an announced election and the election results. The ruling prevents central and local governments from enacting any new or controversial government initiatives to be advantageous to a particular candidate.
For digital marketing, basically, it just means that anyone in those sectors needs to be careful during the pre-election period.
The years of 2016/2017 have kicked off riveting political times, rife with never-before-seen governmental changes the world over - for better or worse. Digital media (i.e. social media) is paramount in influencing the masses - entertaining, informing, and misinforming us all. And if we have learned anything, it may be that predictions don’t always go to plan. If nothing else, Brexit will provide an abundance of topical content to explore!