Free pitching on the rise, survey suggests

Nearly half of UK design consultancies are increasing their number of free pitches in a bid to win clients, according to a new survey.


Source: J D Mack

The annual Design Industry Voices survey, compiled by Fairley & Associates, Gabriele Skelton and On Pointe Marketing, shows that 49 per cent of those surveyed said they were making more free creative pitches to prospective clients than at this time last year.

More than a third (36 per cent) said they were making more free creative pitches for existing clients.

And nearly three-quarters of respondents (73 per cent) said that clients were expecting more work for free. This is a rise from last year’s figure.

One anonymous survey respondent, who works in account management, says, ‘As we emerge from the recession there appears to be a more positive attitude towards projects and work going ahead. However, obtaining reasonable budgets remains a challenge.’

Another respondent, who works as a freelance new business consultant, says, ‘I strongly feel that more agencies should say no to free creative pitching and that an industry-wide campaign should be launched against free creative pitching.’

The report also shows that more than half of respondents are looking to change job in the next 12 months.

A total of 54 per cent of respondents said they were looking for a new role in 2014, although this is down from last year’s 59 per cent response.

However, 59 per cent of those surveyed said they believe consultancies are employing fewer people.

There was brighter news around pay, with nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents saying they had received a pay-rise in the past two years. Of these, nearly three-quarters said the rise was more than 3 per cent of the salary – outstripping the rate of inflation.

Rachel Fairley, lead author of the research and managing director of Fairley & Associates, says, ‘This is the first evidence we have that the industry is in recovery, as despite the pressure from clients to do more for less money, agency leaders are awarding their staff pay rises and bonuses.’

The Design Industry Voices report surveyed 576 people working for design and digital consultancies. You can read the report in full at

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  • Chris Michaeloudis November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    So free pitching is on the increase….no surprise there! Free pitching will continue to be seen as an acceptable way to select a design agency as long as the design industry allows it. I agree with the freelancer who called for a unified, industry wide campaign to eradicate the practice of free pitching. Working in marketing & business development for a small agency, I often have to explain to prospects & clients why we do not do free creative pitches. We have even won a few projects by refusing to provide a free creative pitch. However, it is up to us as an industry to educate prospects & clients on the value & role of design to their business. Free pitching is the antithesis of collaboration and until we start to value design there will always be clients asking for free pitches and agencies too scared to turn them down.

  • Kevin McElligott November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Right on Chris

  • Kevin McElligott November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Right on Chris

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