Advertising and Brand-Building Are Low on CEOs’ Long-Term Digital Investment Priorities

April 9, 2021

PwC CEO Digital Investments Apr2021The pandemic did very little to disrupt organizations’ quest towards digital transformation. In some cases, it has accelerated it. Looking beyond the pandemic and into more long-term priorities, digital transformation looks like it will remain a primary focus for CEOs, per a report [pdf] from PwC.

The annual global survey of CEOs found that close to half (49%) of respondents plan to increase their investment in digital transformation significantly (by at least 10%) in the next three years, while about one-third (34%) will increase their investment moderately (between 3-9%).

And, what priorities do companies have when it comes to digital transformation? According to research by WARC, at least in the short-term, customer experience, drawing insights from big data, and e-commerce top the list of priorities.

CEOs are also looking to increase their long-term investment in initiatives to realize cost efficiencies, per PwC, with 3 in 10 (32%) saying they will increase their investment significantly and 44% increasing investment moderately.

With the pandemic in full swing last year, brand was considered high on the list of priorities for CMOs. However, per PwC’s data, brand-building and advertising sit low on CEOs’ list of long-term priorities. Only about 4 in 10 intended to increase investment in this area either significantly (9%) or moderately (29%) over the next three years.

The report also highlights the top threats that CEOs were extremely concerned about in 2021. Not surprisingly, pandemics and other health crises (52%) emerge as the top threat for these respondents. They are also extremely concerned about cyber threats (47%). In fact, cybersecurity and data privacy represent another area where CEOs plan to increase their investment (significantly: 31%; moderately: 41%) in the next few years.

Despite the changes in customer behavior caused by the pandemic and reports that CMOs are finding it challenging to understand whether these changes are permanent or temporary, CEOs appear to be less worried. Indeed, only 26% of CEOs say they are extremely concerned about this.

US Growth Strategies

Looking at US data from the survey, in order to drive growth over the next 12 months, a majority (88%) of the 260 US CEOs surveyed plan to pursue organic growth. More than three-quarters (77%) say they will seek operational efficiencies, while a little less than two-thirds (63%) will launch a new product or service. Finally, 57% of US CEOs say they will pursue new M&A in order to drive growth in the next year.

The full report can be found here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a global survey of 1,779 CEOs, field between January – February 2021.

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