The Average CMO Tenure Dipped Slightly in 2018

June 19, 2019

This article is included in these additional categories:

Business of Marketing | Staffing

The average tenure of CMOs at 100 of the most advertised consumer brands in the US experienced a slight drop last year, but remains slightly longer than it was in 2016. That’s according to the latest annual analysis from Spencer Stuart, which also notes a shift towards more gender diversity in the CMO role.

The average CMO tenure stood at 43 months in 2018, a slight decline from 44 months in 2017, yet still longer than the 42 months from 2016. The 43-month mean average remains within the 42-48-month range starting in 2010 and rests well above the 2004-2006 period when CMO tenure averaged only about 2 years.

The median average fell to 27.5 months in 2018, which is only slightly above the 2015 and 2016 levels of 26.5 and 27, respectively. However, it was well below 2017’s median average of 31 months.

More Women Take On the Role of CMO

Of the 100 most advertised consumer brands in the US, 94 have CMOs. In 2018, 34 (or 36%) of those CMOs were women. This is up from last year’s 28. Additionally, Spencer Stuart reports that, of the 18 new to the role of CMO in 2018, 8 were women.

While women are still under-represented these new figures are promising, considering that a study from Equilar in late 2017 found that women represented only about 18% of chief marketing executive roles.

Unfortunately, the move toward diversity was less encouraging for minorities last year. In fact, it seems to have taken a downturn. Of the 94 CMOs represented, only 9 (9.6%) were minorities. The number of minority CMOs actually decreased from 11 in 2017, and none of the 18 new CMOs in 2018 were minorities. This is vastly different from 2017 when 6 of the 21 new CMOs were minorities.

Majority of New CMOs Are First-Timers

From this sample of CMOs, 89% (16 of 18) of the new CMOs in 2018 were in that position for the first time. This percentage is considerably higher than it was the year before (57%, or 12 of 21). Diving a bit deeper, 67 of the 94 (71%) CMOs analyzed overall are in the position for the first time.

What do these first-time CMOs have to look forward to? The CMO Council found that CMOs will be focused on several goals this year, including improving go-to-market processes and digital marketing capabilities as well as finding sources of revenue. And, if these first-time CMOs want to be among the top performing CMOs, they will go above and beyond their traditional role to find new ways to deliver a highly relevant customer experience.

Moreover, the influence of the CMO is expected to expand. Another study from Spencer Stuart found that, while only 26 seats on the boards of Fortune 1000 companies in the US are held by CMOs, the majority of marketing executives surveyed believe that CMOs will hold more seats on boards in the coming years.

Further analysis can be found here.

About the Data: The CMO tenure data set is based on an analysis of the tenures of CMOs from 100 of the most-advertised U.S. brands as of December 31, 2018, with 94 of these 100 companies having CMOs.

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