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The New 2019 Alternatives & Marketing Institute Salary, Market Insights And Sentiment Survey

Posted By The Marketing Institute & Alternatives, Thursday 17 October 2019

Salary Survey 2019

Brexit Impact Hits & Senior Gender Pay Gap Widens to €17,500

Double digit percentage salary increases / Multi-nationals pay better

Flexible working even more popular with Flex Generation

“The reality of Brexit and its possible impact, the emergence of a hyper competitive market for talent, the dominance of digital spend, fluctuating consumer sentiment, widening disparity between what men and women are paid for doing the same job and the enduring popularity of flexible working are some of the key factors influencing the marketing industry in Ireland”. That’s according to Sandra Lawler, Founder Director of Alternatives (, Ireland’s No1 Marketing and Customer Talent solutions specialists commenting on the new Alternatives & Marketing Institute of Ireland 2019 Salary, Market Insights & Sentiment Survey, which provides a unique insight into Ireland’s Marketing industry. 

Now in its sixth year and with over 1,000 respondents from the marketing, digital and customer community(see Editor’s Note), it takes an in-depth look at preparedness for Brexit, differences by company sector, size, career level and gender in areas including market sentiment, salaries and benefits in addition to the role and focus of the marketing function.


Brexit, Salaries, Talent Trends, Flexible Working + Benefits Gap, Marketing Spend + Investment and Sentiment


  • Overall, sentiment is 53% negative with 14% uncertain.
  • The sectors most negative about Brexit impact are Motor 94%, Retail 82% and FMCG 81%. The sectors with a more positive or benign viewpoint are Ecommerce 25%, IT/Tech 29% and Gaming 29%.
  • The most prepared sectors for Brexit are Government, Retail and Gaming while the least prepared include Agency, Hotel / Leisure and Manufacturing.



  • Despite a commitment to pay equality, the gender pay differential in Irish firms remains significant. It increases the more senior the career level, including on a like for like role basis, with male directors for example getting paid on average €17,500 more than their female counterparts for, on average, the same role and/or level.
  • Also, the gap in salaries, rather than narrowing, has instead increased in the last year, particularly at head of level (gap is +11% this year, vs +8% last year) and manager level (gap is +7% this year, vs +3% last year).
  • On the Benefits front, there’s also a gender gap with males accruing more benefits (car, bonuses, healthcare, share options etc) than their female counterparts in permanent, flexible and remote working. The only benefits exception is in part time working where females out-pace males.       
  • Overall though, the picture that emerges is that females should seek - and get – benefits parity. 
  • Overall, marketing is a well remunerated industry. Salaries range from support level at an average of €34,000 base salary (+13% vs LY) to Directors at an average of €132,000 (+8% vs LY).
  • On an average basis, the most lucrative roles by level are Marketing Director €141,000, Head of Online €109,000 and Head of Marketing €95,000               
  • In a hyper competitive market for talent which puts upward pressure on salaries, 2 in 3 got a salary increase last year.                           
  • Again, on average, multi-nationals pay better than Irish companies and larger companies pay better than smaller companies.


Talent Trends

  • Issues with engagement continue, although somewhat improved vs last year.
  •  53% plan to stay with their company for two years or less and only 59% would recommend their employer to a friend.


Flexible Working

  • The drive to embrace flexibility, both to compete in the market using flexible talent and as means to engage employees by offering flexible working options, will build in the coming years.
  •  With this “Flex Generation”, both females and males rate flexible working as one of their lead factors of engagement. 75% of respondents get offered some flexible working option, and contrary to popular opinion, male respondents get offered more options to work remotely or with flexible hours than their female counterparts. 61% of males and 52% of females can work remotely, 49% of males and 46% of females can avail of flexible hours. 15% of female respondents can work part time (i.e. a 4-day week for example) vs 8% of males. 

Bernie Keogh, MD of Alternatives said: “As the business that pioneered flexible working in the marketing industry in Ireland in 2000, providing an “alternative way of accessing great talent”, the era of flexibility has truly arrived.

In the battle for talent, 70% of respondent companies use Interim Managers and contractors and one in three respondents have themselves contracted or freelanced before. In addition, the desire to work flexibility has never been greater amongst the flex generation of men and women. An organisation that can respond to this will win the battle for talent and have a more engaged workforce.” 


Marketing Spend + Investment

  • Respondents report working with tight resources, with most Marketing departments having teams of under 10 and budgets of under €1m.
  • The dominance of Digital continues in terms of budget allocations with Digital (including Content and Social) at 58%, Events at 40% and Digital PPC/SEO at 38% of spend. Meanwhile Press / Radio and Outdoor advertising has just 32%.
  • With digital priorities, there is now an-over focus on short term tactical spend to the detriment of long-term brand building.            
  • In addition, 61% of respondents said marketing was perceived as a strategic, revenue generating partner. However, 19% felt it was perceived as a support function.



  • Customer sentiment in the last year was strong but less robust than previous years. 
  •  The future trading outlook is still positive overall, but declining.                                                                                                                                  

Tom Trainor, Chief Executive, the Marketing Institute of Ireland said: “The challenges facing the marketing profession in 2020 and beyond are well flagged in this new survey. The period ahead will provide marketers with the opportunity to demonstrate the real value of our profession to business. The strategic importance of Marketing has never been more central to economic health, as our members seek to consolidate existing local markets and to look outwards globally to explore new international opportunities. Learning and development needs to be a constant feature of life for all marketing practitioners if we are to realise the potential of our profession.

Bernie Keogh, Managing Director, Alternatives concluded: “Once again, the diverse range of survey results all point to how essential it is for companies to successfully compete in an increasingly complex and fast paced talent market.  A good company to work in, is one with a strong vision and purpose, a positive culture, good career opportunities, flexible working, investment in training and coaching, as well as good salary and benefits.”



1.     Customer sentiment in the last year was strong but less robust than previous years.

83% thought customer sentiment in the last year was positive (35% considered it the same and 48% better).

This declined vs last year’s survey, when 93% found sentiment positive. In addition, 15% found sentiment a little worse (vs just 6% the year prior). 

This marks the first halt in a long run of positivity, which has lasted several years and indeed since we began carrying out this survey in 2014.

2.     Future trading outlook still positive overall, but Brexit is a major threat.

The future trading outlook for the next 12 months remains positive overall (75% feel it will be the same or will improve) but 1 in 4 feel trading conditions in their market will deteriorate vs just 7% at the same time last year.

Those most positive in outlook include the construction, telco, NFP, tech, logistics, healthcare and professional services sectors.  Those with the most negative outlook include the motor, agri, government, manufacturing and pharma sectors.                                                                                             

3.     This is due in a large part to Brexit, which is seen as a negative force where the level of preparedness not as high as needed.

53% feel it will have a negative or very negative impact vs 36% LY. 27% are neutral and just 5% feel it will have a positive impact. Those sectors that feel most impacted by Brexit specifically are those in the motor sector (92% negative), retail (82%), FMCG, drinks, government orgs, travel and manufacturing. Those least negative include e-commerce, tech, gaming, media and education.

However, at this late stage, only 30% feel their organisations are well or very well prepared for Brexit and in particular those in government, retail, gaming, financial services and professional services. Most (45%) feel they are somewhat prepared and those in smaller companies and those in the agency, hotel/leisure, manufacturing, not for profit and healthcare sectors feel least prepared.


4.     There’s a competitive market for talent, putting upward pressure on salaries. 2 in 3 got a salary increase last year.

It’s a very competitive market for talent and this saw increased pressure on salaries. Average salaries by level increased from 3% to 13% in the last year. 64% of all respondents got a salary increase, of which 1 in 5 got an increase of 6% or more. In Alternatives’ experience this was particularly evident at the early to mid-career level, where demand is being driven by the well-funded tech giants.


5.     The gender pay differential remains significant while the gap in salaries has increased in the last year particularly at mid to senior level - despite public commitment to pay equality. The gap increases the more senior the career level, including on a like for like role basis.

Although at career entry stage female respondents are 4% higher paid, this soon changes, and the pay differential increases the more senior the career stage. For instance, a male director will get an average of €17,500 more than a female director (+14% and vs. €15,000 LY). A male at head of level gets paid 11% more than his female counterpart, a manager 7% more and a practitioner level +4% more.


6.     All of these are greater gaps than those recorded last year. (Head of level +11% TY vs +8% LY and Manager level +8% TY vs 4% LY).

In addition, and perhaps as a result of better pay and benefits, male respondents are more engaged, feel more secure and are more likely to recommend their employer to a friend.

Sandra Lawler, survey author and founder director of Alternatives said: “Again this year, despite public commitments by companies, the 2019 survey finds that male respondents are paid more on average and for the same roles than their female counterparts at almost all levels from practitioner level upwards. The salary gap increases the higher the more senior the career level, with male directors for example getting paid on average €17,500 more than their female counterpart, for on average the same role and/or level.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 “The gap also increased last year, rather than decreased, despite public and company awareness of the gender gap issue and the need to address it and is particularly dispiriting”.

7.     Benefits are much as LY and male respondents continue to get more benefits across the board than their female counterparts.

Benefits are much as last year. The top benefits enjoyed are mobile phone, bonuses, contributory pension, remote and flexible working and healthcare. Those working in large companies, in particular non-Irish owned multinationals, get more benefits, in particular in relation to healthcare, pensions, bonuses and share options.

Males get more benefits across all benefit categories than females, in particular relating to car allowances, cars, bonuses and remote working and also this year, flexible hours. The only area that females benefit more from is part time working (e.g. 3-4-day week, mornings etc).

8.     Marketing is a well remunerated industry. Salaries ranges from support level at an average of €34,000 base salary (+13% vs LY) to Directors at an average of €132,000 (+8% vs LY).This remains a well remunerated industry. See average and increase vs average LY:


Career Level

Survey Range

Average TY

% Change


















Head of









9.     Issues with engagement continue, although somewhat improved vs last year.

Engagement has improved somewhat on last year when it was at an all-time low. 59% now rate their engagement at 7 out of 10 or more, up on just 55% last year. Male respondents are also more engaged than females (65% vs 55%).  Despite salary increases, good benefits and security in their roles, there is still a high level of disengagement (21% of respondents).                                                                                                                                                

10.  We are in the era of the flex generation. The drive to embrace flexibility both to compete in the market using flexible talent and as means to engage employees by offering flexible working options has never been more pronounced.


11.  The industry works with tight resources, with majority in teams of under 10 and budgets of under €1m.

Resources remain relatively tight with 60% having marketing teams of 10 or less and 53% budgets of €1m or less. Larger companies, multinationals and consumer facing businesses such as drinks, gaming, e-commerce, telco, retail and financial services have greater resources.

12.  With the era of digital there is now an over focus on short term tactical spend to the detriment of long-term brand building.

Peter Field and Les Binet's now-famous 60/40 ratio rule of thumb was that marketers should spend approximately 60% of their budget on long term brand building and 40% on short term sales activation. In our survey only 7% claimed to be dedicating 60% of their budget to long term growth. One third of the respondents were dedicating 20% or less, a worrying finding.                                                                                                                                                                                                    

13.  61% of respondents said marketing was perceived as a strategic, revenue generating partner. But 19% feel it is seen as a support function (vs 22% LY).

39% said it was perceived as strategic and is also represented on the board. Those that are considered most strategic are those more deeply embedded across the organisation in customer, commercial and product/service and strategy development. Hence there is a need to engage and influence across the organisation across these areas and to demonstrate effectiveness.



Survey Participation:

  • Survey carried out from the end of June to the end of August 2019
  • 1,015 respondents from the marketing, digital, data and customer community
  • 64% female, 36% male respondents
  • 83% offices located in Dublin region
  • Small, medium & large businesses
  • 42% multinationals, 58% Irish owned
  • 25+ Sectors covered                                                                                                                                                                                                           

About Alternatives 

The Alternatives Group is an award-winning, dynamic talent consultancy specialising in all things marketing, digital & customer.  Operating for 20 years, Alternatives are deep specialists in the key disciplines which unlock growth for business and careers.

Alternatives for growth include the Alternatives Flexible Panel, Executive Search & Recruitment Solutions and Consultancy, Training & Coaching solutions.

Alternatives also works with the best marketing, digital and customer professionals, helping them build unparalleled careers.

Alternatives has a proven track record with clients across all sectors, from tech, financial services, professional services, FMCG, agri, amongst others.


About The Marketing Institute

The Marketing Institute is the professional body for Ireland's marketing people. It exists “to enable marketers to build great brands and great careers”. It does this by sharing best practice, insights and expert content, building the community of marketers, and aiding marketers in career progression. The three themes of content, community and career underpin all Institute activities. The Marketing Institute also owns and operates the All Ireland Marketing Awards, the CMO Summit, and DMX Dublin, Ireland's largest marketing conference.


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