Marketing and COVID-19: Which Sectors are Most Affected?
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Marketing and COVID-19: Which Sectors are Most Affected?

In this Marketing Report:

It is in this context that we asked ourselves a question: how was the marketing landscape impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic so far?

In two months, we have seen notable developments in the marketing field and this article seeks to present which expertises are suffering the most from the crisis we are going through, and which expertises are in greater demand than usual. Because we help companies partner with the best marketing providers, we are perfectly positioned to measure market developments and understand what the trends are.

If you are a marketing professional, knowing such information could allow you to adapt your offer and services to better meet market demand and thus get through the crisis more easily.


is the growth of the web application expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Web Application

seems to be the expertise that grew the most both in our core markets and internationally


is how much the demand for the event expertise went down during the pandemic

Marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Growth of different expertises during the COVID-19 pandemic

By looking at the projects posted in the last weeks on Sortlist, we can draw some conclusions on a global scale: 

  • Web applications, E-Commerce, SEO and Digital Strategy are on the rise
  • Event Marketing, Mobile Apps and Online Advertising are going down by 30%. 
Marketing growth during COVID-19: Global overview

E-commerce, digital strategy, and social media are the marketing activities where demand grew most in the first three months after the outbreak of the pandemic. Many shops had to close in spring, which is why demand in the e-commerce segment rose sharply.

But it was not only the retail trade that shifted to the internet; many aspects of communication with customers now take place online. This could explain the increase in project requests in the area of digital strategy and social media as well as content strategy and graphic design.

Rising expertises during the COVID-19 pandemic 

The most sought after expertises on Sortlist since the start of the pandemic are:

Marketing during Covid-19: Global overview - rising expertises

Expertises that lost demand during the COVID-19 pandemic – Global overview

The expertises that lost demand during the COVID-19 pandemic are:

Marketing during Covid-19: Global overview - expertises that lost demand

Worldwide, the event, public relations, and film sectors were hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis during the second quarter of 2020. Event bans and social distancing led to a decline in demand for event marketing by almost half in the period from April to June 2020. Project requests in the area of public relations dropped by almost 20%.

In the third quarter, the business situation for marketing companies in the event, public relations, and film sectors recovered somewhat. This is likely to be directly related to the relaxation of the Corona restrictions.

Growth by expertise: Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands

Marketing growth during COVID-19: Core markets

Rising expertises in Sortlist’s core markets

The most sought after expertises on Sortlist since the start of the pandemic in France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands are:

  • Web Applications – grew by 100,51%
  • Digital Strategy – grew by 56,85%
  • E-Commerce – grew by 41,64%
Core Markets: Rising expertises

The increase in demand for web applications, e-commerce, digital strategy, and website creation could be linked to the confinement that these countries are going through. Concretely, the impossibility of making offline sales, in stores, for example, seems to push companies to rely much more on their online presence to compensate for the losses induced by the confinement. 

The trend that companies want to improve their online communication is also emerging in Sortlist’s core countries. Content strategy, graphic design, SEO, and digital strategy were increasingly in demand in the 3rd quarter of 2020.

Expertises that lost demand in Sortlist’s core markets

The expertises that lost demand during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sortlist’s core markets are:

  • Graphic Design – went down by 27,02%
  • Branding & Positioning – went down by 30,51%
  • Movie – went down by 32,30%
Core Markets: Expertises that lost demand

But on the other hand, investments in online advertising are declining. Even if it may seem contradictory, we believe that this is linked to the fear of making advertising investments that would not have a positive ROI. 

Also, the decline in demand for the creation of mobile apps and websites in the five countries is remarkable. This could be related to the economic consequences of the pandemic.

Already in May Sortlist carried out a survey among 500 small and medium-sized companies on their web presence. In this survey, 60% of the respondents stated that their budget for creating a website had been cut since the outbreak of the pandemic. 

Sortlist’s core countries in the overview: Germany

In Germany, event marketing and public relations activities recovered particularly well in the third quarter of 2020. This could be due to the fact that Germany has a relatively low infection rate in international and European comparison to date and restrictions in the event sector have therefore been less strict. 

Projects posted in Germany

The above-mentioned trend that know-how for the creation of websites and mobile apps is less in demand is also evident in Germany. This is probably due to the general business situation and negative outlooks that are causing German companies to postpone major one-off marketing investments. 

Sortlist’s core countries in the overview: France

France is one of the European countries where the public health consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic are particularly evident. This is likely to have a longer-term impact on the marketing industry. 

projects posted in france

On the one hand, demand for event marketing continued to decline in the third quarter and demand for e-commerce returned to normal. On the other hand, services related to digital communication are in greater demand among customers. Graphic design, digital strategy, and website creation were able to grow in the third quarter of 2020.

However, there was a decline in the areas of branding and mobile apps. This could be due to companies focusing on existing communication channels in the face of negative business expectations and postponing long-term and more cost-intensive projects. 

Sortlist’s core countries in the overview: Spain

In Spain, the last three months have also seen a recovery in those marketing sectors that suffered a major blow in the second quarter of 2020. In detail, demand from customers for know-how in event marketing and film increased again in the third quarter. The development in e-commerce and digital strategy returned to normal. 

projects posted in Spain

Similar to France or Germany, the need for expertise in mobile apps, website creation, and branding has decreased in Spain. In the current business climate, marketers in Spain could increasingly focus on short-term goals. Long-term projects such as branding or major investments such as in a new website or mobile app could currently be out of reach for many companies due to the poor economic situation. 

Sortlist’s core countries in the overview: Belgium

Belgium reflects many international developments. The marketing areas of public relations and events recovered over the summer. Demand for graphic design also increased in Belgium in the third quarter, which could be due to the fact that brands are increasingly focusing on communication on the Internet. The demand for skills in the creation of websites and apps also declined among Belgian marketing clients. 

Projects posted in Belgium

Sortlist’s core countries in the overview: Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the situation regarding marketing trends is somewhat different when compared internationally. Event marketing recovered somewhat here in the third quarter. The demand for services in the area of digital strategy and website creation is currently high, which could be due to the fact that companies are shifting their communication with customers to digital channels in the long term. 

Projects posted in the Netherlands


What can we learn from this information? Marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic has been greatly impacted by external factors. The demand for expertise in SEO, e-commerce, content strategy, and web applications is growing, and rightly so: companies need to be able to gain online visibility and put in place tools that allow them to sell their solutions effectively, to compensate for the loss induced by the confinement we are going through. And they need to be able to do this while minimizing their advertising costs, hence the fact that the demand for advertising and online advertising has fallen over the last two months, compared to 2019.

All of these trends we have seen are consistent with the slowdown in offline commerce and the acceleration of the digital transformation that has already been observed for some time. The only difference is that this COVID-19 crisis puts businesses in a situation where their digital transition must be faster and more painful than expected.


For this study about how the marketing environment changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, we compared the number of projects that have been submitted to Sortlist in 2019 with the number of projects that we have received between February and April 2020, for the 15 expertises that are generally the most requested on our website. Concretely, we looked at the percentage that each expertise represented among the total number of projects posted on our platform.

In addition, you should know that we have made this comparison on two scales:

  • For all the countries where Sortlist is active ;
  • A focus on Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands;

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