December's survey focused on questions about union recognition, new product development and marketing. It also included the regular quarterly 'core questions' about business and trading conditions.
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162 respondents were drawn with the following population characteristics:
60% of respondents restrict spending on marketing to less than 10% of their total, while a further 27% keep it under 20%. 62% reckon that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, with 12% favouring direct advertising.
Average growth in the last quarter was relatively stable, but within this, companies with turnover from £1m to over £3M expanded slightly while those with turnover below £1m declined somewhat. The most expansive sector amongst respondents was Production and Manufacturing.
Overall, respondents expect a healthy expansive quarter at the beginning of 2004, across all sizes by turnover of company. Production and Manufacturing and Services expect positive growth, while Distribution on average expects a small decline.