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It’s no secret that marketers prize Millennials as an appealing target audience. But research from KPMG [pdf] indicates that CEOs are still facing a range of challenges in meeting the needs of Millennial consumers.

The survey – fielded among 400 CEOs in the US – found them citing a range of challenges. For example, almost half say that their organization finds it challenging to understand how Millennials’ needs differ from older customers’ needs. (This is somewhat surprising as there seems to be a large body of research on this topic.)

Meanwhile, an equal percentage (46%) of CEOs say that their organizations are challenged to adapt their sales and distribution model, which does make sense given that Millennials’ purchase influencers appear to differ from those of other generations.

Millennials’ propensity to use digital channels is also presenting a challenge to CEOs, 44% of whom are figuring out how to engage youth in new ways via such channels.

Other problems that CEOs are facing including attracting Millennials’ attention among competing online content from other brands and publishers (42%), repositioning brand image (41%) and responding to Millennials’ expectations of an on-demand service (39%).

In a sense, some of these challenges (Millennials’ use of digital channels, content, and on-demand services) offer insights into how Millennials’ needs today differ from those of older customers.

CEOs Trust Data. Or Do They?

The report offers contrasting looks into CEOs’ use of data. On the one hand, vast majorities of respondents report strong or very strong trust in various types of data when it comes to informing strategic decisions, such as social media data (96%), independent secondary information providers (93%) and traditional media (80%).

But on the other hand, fully 78% admit to having overlooked data-driven insights in favor of intuition at some point over the past 3 years when making critical decisions.

That brings to mind previous research demonstrating that intuition and experience were as used as data-driven insights in critical decision-making, and that a majority of executives would re-analyze data if it contradicted their gut instinct. It seems that such sentiment persists years on.

Other Survey Highlights

  • Protecting customer data is hugely important to 89% of CEOs surveyed.
  • Investments made in personalizing the customer experience (a key objective for brand marketers) have paid off for 93% of US CEOs.
  • Although consumer expectations are driving customer experience initiatives, close to 1 in 4 CEOs believe their companies aren’t living up to customers’ expectations for a personalized experience.
  • Virtually all CEOs strongly or very strongly agree that their organizations understand how to calculate the rate of expected ROI from investments in digital transformation (95%) and artificial intelligence systems (92%).

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 400 US CEOs, all of whom lead companies with at least $500 million in revenues, and three-quarters of whom lead companies with at least $1 billion in revenues. The CEOs represent all major industries.

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