Havas study reveals urgent need to transform client-agency relationships

Erin Flaxman, Global Chief Growth Officer at Havas Media Group

At the ProcureCon Marketing EU Conference, Havas unveiled its “Meaningful Brands Special Report: The Client-Agency Relationship Barometer,” a first-of-its-kind research report examining how agencies can become more meaningful, long-term partners amid ongoing disruption brought on by the global pandemic, supply chain issues and shifts in tech and data.

“The Client-Agency Relationship Barometer” is a report within Havas Group’s Meaningful Brands study—a landmark bi-annual survey of brand value that has been running since 2009.

Conducted in partnership with YouGov and Prescient, it is the first of its size, comprising in-depth interviews and a wide-ranging quantitative study among more than 100 procurement decision makers in the United States and the United Kingdom. It assesses their current organizational priorities and how agencies are measuring up against these new expectations.

What were the findings of Havas’ research?

“A dynamic new agenda is emerging across businesses as organizations pivot to adapt to shifting consumer behavior, and the client-agency value exchange has never received more attention,” said Tracey Barber, Global CMO, Havas Creative Group commenting on the study.

“The findings of our ‘Client Agency Relationship Barometer’ are a wake-up call for agencies: it’s time to build strategies that close the client expectation gap and forge meaningful relationships that can stand the inevitable challenges and tests ahead,” Tracey further said.

Havas’ research study suggests that procurement professionals in the firm increasingly see their role as future-focused, beyond the immediate imperative of driving business and sales performance, with one in four respondents seeing transformation as their top priority.

Agencies have room for improvement in aiding clients in driving transformation, with 46% indicating their agencies were only providing traditional, and 1 in 5 believing their agencies present innovation that is ‘new and shiny’ rather than what is integral to their business needs.

How can agencies build more meaningful relationsips?

Agencies are coming under new-found scrutiny amidst systematic disruption, with 50% of procurement leaders surveyed seeing a disconnect between their needs and what agencies are providing. Borne out of this groundbreaking study, Havas has crafted seven guiding pillars for agile agencies to build more meaningful and lasting relationships, including:

  1. Everything must be driven by its relevance to the business in the long run, so build a way to understand the impact of your actions.
  2. Create forums for new experts and talent (ESG / Sustainability / Purpose).
  3. Tie everything back to the delivery of tangible value and actual return on investment. If your clients feel they are getting great value, they probably are.

Commenting on the research, Erin Flaxman, Global Chief Growth Officer, Havas Media Group said, “In our increasingly complex world, a successful client-agency relationship must take the form of a valued partnership. Agencies should become trusted counsellors, aiding their clients in navigating uncertainty and creating meaningful connections with consumers.”

“These pillars are a guide to understanding the core issues facing clients and strengthening the forward-looking skills and expertise today’s procurement professionals are looking for.”