Early on in the pandemic, a majority of marketers said that their function had risen in importance. If their responsibilities are the basis of that judgment, then it certainly seems as though marketing has gained a broader role within the organization. The latest edition [pdf] of The CMO Survey finds that more CMOs are reporting responsibility for a range of activities compared to early 2020, from traditional roles such as brand and advertising to others including market entry strategies and market selection.
Asked what marketing is primarily responsible for at their company, a leading 94.1% in the March 2023 study pointed to brand, up from 90% in February 2020. Other primary responsibilities cited by at least 9 in 10 respondents include advertising (92.3%, up from 86%) and digital marketing (90.5%, up from 86%).
There have been even more significant increases in the shares of CMOs who report that marketing is responsible for promotion (77.9%, up from 65.3%), marketing analytics (77%, up from 66.7%), positioning (76.6%, up from 64.7%) and marketing research (73.9%, up from 60.7%).
Notably, more CMOs now say that marketing is primarily responsible for revenue growth, with more than 4 in 10 (41.4%) saying that’s the case, compared to fewer than one-third (32.7%) in February 2020. This is supported by other research indicating that revenue growth is a key marketing effectiveness metric.
In a surprising result, though, the results from this report suggest a slightly declining responsibility for the customer experience. Whereas about half (49.3%) of CMOs had indicated that this was a primary responsibility of marketing in February 2020, slightly fewer (46.4%) now say that’s the case. This is another data point to add to the discussion surrounding who owns the customer experience.
Separately, the CMOs surveyed for the report indicate that their top challenge (from a group of 12 options) is expanding into new markets, segments, or geographies, with just more than 1 in 5 (20.6%) pointing to this as their leading challenge. Perhaps as a result, respondents are prioritizing existing markets (77.1% share of spend) over new markets (22.8% share of spend). Interestingly, Services companies appear to be allocating more spending to market development (existing products/services into new markets) than they were in February 2020. This is particularly the case for B2C Services companies, which are also spending more on bringing new products/services into new markets.
Finally, despite marketing taking on broader responsibilities since the beginning of the pandemic, this does not seem to have translated into more leadership roles for marketers. Fewer than 1 in 4 (23.5%) respondents said that their current CEO is a former marketing leader at their or another company, down from more than one-third (35.9%) who said the same in February 2019. Moreover, only 29.5% said that it’s likely or very likely that the current top marketing leader in their company becomes the CEO at their or another company, down from 36.9% who said the same in February 2019.
For more, check out the report here [pdf].
About the Data: The results are based on a January 2023 survey of 314 marketing leaders at for-profit US companies, 97% of whom are VP-level and above.