Sixty-five percent of chief marketing officers (CMOs) and marketing leaders expect to make moderate to significant budget cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Gartner. The researcher conducted the poll among 176 marketers during its Gartner for Marketers Research Connections webinar on “Marketing in Uncertainty,” on March 20.

When asked what impact they expect coronavirus to have on their marketing budget in 2020 relative to their original plan, 32 percent of respondents said they plan to significantly decrease their budget and 33 percent said they will moderately decrease their budget. 

In comparison, 63 percent of CMOs surveyed in Gartner’s annual CMO Spend Survey, in summer 2019, said they anticipate a budget increase.

In terms of actions marketing departments have taken in response to coronavirus, 68 percent of respondents said they’re canceling or postponing customer-facing marketing events. Followed by 63 percent who said they’re launching special coronavirus communications to customers.

The results suggest that marketers must swiftly implement cost optimization plans to alleviate near-term and future impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.

Another recent Gartner poll among 833 business leaders revealed that 34 percent of businesses expect reduced levels of operations due to the coronavirus, 10 percent expect operations to be severely restricted and two percent will halt operations altogether. 

To better prepare for the impact of the coronavirus, Gartner recommends marketers create specialized teams for the purpose of formulating and adapting cost optimization plans and building budget scenarios. Equipping these tiger teams with data and analytics that inform new costs associated with coronavirus will also prove critical.