B2B Big Bang: Spending Is Up In Key Expense Categories, American Express Reports

B2B email marketing could be making a modest but real contribution to business recovery in 2021.  

Total spending on advertising, sales and marketing increased by 6.1% in from fourth-quarter 2020 to fourth-quarter 2021, and by 2.8% in the first quarter YoY, according to the Global Business Spend Indicator (GBSI), a study by American Express conducted with the Centre for Business and Economic Research (CEBR).

And advertising output (including email marketing) is on track to deliver even higher growth in the second quarter. 

Overall, the ad-spending increases equate to an estimated $33 billion increase in spend, suggesting that businesses are focused on reaching new audiences, securing new business, and growing market share,” the report notes. 

In general, B2B spending across the board will see an average 3.4% lift in the second quarter compared to the prior year.

Applying the overall projection to broader U.S. macroeconomic data would equate to an estimated $140 billion, the study says. 



B2B expenditures amount to 48% of gross output in the U.S. economy, CEBR estimates. Moreover, 76% of B2B businesses are optimistic about their prospects over the next 12 months. 

The study predicts these increases in Q2 YoY: 

  • Advertising, sales and marketing — +4.1%
  • Building, construction, maintenance and installation — +3.8%
  • Business and professional services — +3.7% 
  • Capital investments and operating expenditures — +4.1%
  • Financial services: e.g., insurance, intermediation, foreign exchange fees — +3.8%
  • Finished goods: e.g., clothing, food products — +3.1% 
  • Raw or processed materials: e.g., chemicals, metals, lumber — +6.4%
  • Technology — +4.3% 
  • Utilities — +3.2% 
  • Total B2B spend — +3.1%

The study also projects these increases in other business spending categories:

  • People/workforce — +3.8%
  • Taxes and licensing — +5%
  • Travel, entertainment and expenses — 3.1% 

That hike in tech spending, totaling $25 billion when applied to U.S. macroeconomic data, is most likely driven by rapid digitization of ecommerce capabilities and simplified website enhancements. 

Meanwhile, 23% have expanded their network of suppliers over the last year, and 23% have reduced or avoided long-term commitments to buy from specific vendors. In addition, 22% have chosen suppliers with more flexible payment terms. 

In other findings, the study reports that 51% mostly or fully automate the receipt of payments from B2B customers. And 46% plan to increase or initiate such automation over the next 12 months. 

In addition, 48% mostly or fully automate their own payments to suppliers, and 46% expect to automate this function or increase it over the next year. 

American Express surveyed over 1,000 financial decision makers in the U.S. in March and April. 



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