Robert Sawatzky
May 9, 2022

Talent crunch dominates APAC brand marketing challenges

Short talent supply, mismatched skills, and limited headcount are three of five top challenges facing brands and agencies, says exclusive research from Campaign Asia-Pacific, Forrester and the WFA presented at Campaign360.

Talent crunch dominates APAC brand marketing challenges

If there was any doubt over how significantly the Asia-Pacific marcomms industry is being affected by the current talent crunch, new research has clarified the full extent of the problem.

Two-thirds of brands and agencies report experiencing a negative impact from the Great Resignation in this region, according to The State of Marketing Talent in APAC 2022, an exclusive report from Forrester, Campaign and the WFA.

As employees handed in their notice, nearly half (49%) of marketing leaders say they received fewer qualified candidates to fill the same position. A large portion (41%) say it then took longer to fill those same positions and struggled to bring in new capabilities. This only created knock-on issues, with 29% of leaders detecting higher stress levels among staff, and one-third (33%) reporting rising pay expectations.  

And the problem isn’t going away. Brand and agency leaders identify talent-related issues to be three of their top five greatest challenges in the coming year. Chief among them are their inability to recruit due to a short supply of talent (49%), followed by employees lacking the right skill sets (39%). Just over a third (34%) reported limited headcount as a top challenge, suggesting staff shortages are a persistent problem, while worries over budgets (38%) and the economy (33%) round out their top concerns.  


The data, gleaned from an in-depth survey of 76 brand and agency leaders in APAC, was presented by Forrester VP and research director Frederic Giron at Campaign360 this morning in Singapore. 

This urgent need to address talent challenges, however, appears to be disconnected from company budget planning priorities. In fact, 70% of leaders say their technology budget will increase while only 50% will increase their headcount budget, indicating that companies may be looking increasingly to technology to fill productivity gaps left by an understaffed or under-skilled workforce.

High-demand skills and how to acquire them


It’s also not surprising that the employee-skills most in demand are technology-driven, suggesting that investments in both technology and training are needed to compete.

Marketing organisations identified finding digital business and ecommerce employees (57%) as their greatest need, followed by data analysis (50%) and martech or adtech (49%). Interestingly though, companies differed on their expected approaches to fill those roles. Most leaders expected to be able to train existing marketing employees in ecommerce and data analysis, then hire to supplement that staff. As a third choice, leaders suggested they could find resources to cover the gaps within other roles in their company.  


Martech or adtech, however, is a different story. Marketing leaders suggested their first instinct would be to hire new employees to bring in martech skills, with fewer respondents showing confidence in being able to retrain their employees for such work. Nearly a third suggested they would outsource this work from partners, indicating that martech and adtech literacy remains a work-in-progress in their industry.

Retention strategies

While many leaders continue to look elsewhere for specific capabilities like adtech, most companies are increasingly focused on keeping their top talent happy. One-third of marketing professionals said they’re likely to leave their current jobs in the next two years, with another third not likely to, and others unsure. 

When it comes to retention, it’s important to listen to what’s being said in exit interviews, and among our survey respondents, a variety of reasons for leaving were listed.


Some reasons, like the desire to relocate (24%), reflect a need for a change of pace or scenery that is synonymous with the Great Resignation. Not all companies are in a position to offer this, or the better pay and benefits that 28% cited. But the top reason why marketing professionals said they might quit their jobs was to be more ‘future-fit’ (32%) and another 24% would in order to learn new skills and gain new experiences. So while many companies worry that their workforce might resist pressure to change and retrain, they might just find that their employees actually crave it.

The good news for companies is that there are just as many reasons why employees might prefer to stay and much of it has to do with people. The biggest reason cited for staying put is a good management style (35%), while another 27% enjoy working with their current teams.  Company purpose aligning with personal values (31%) is another top retention magnet, all of which suggests investments in creating the right corporate culture and values remains a critical imperative for all marcomms companies.


‘The State of Marketing Talent in APAC’ full report by Forrester is available to WFA members and Campaign360 attendees.

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