Average CMO Tenure Rebounded in 2017

May 10, 2018

This article is included in these additional categories:

Business of Marketing | Demographics & Audiences | Staffing | Women

The average tenure of CMOs at 100 of the most advertised consumer brands in the US has rebounded after a couple of years of decline. That’s according to the latest annual analysis from Spencer Stuart, which also notes that fewer CMOs have been in their current role for 2 years or less.

The average CMO tenure sat at 44 months in 2017, up from 42 months in 2016, and matching the year prior. The 44-month mean average is 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, meanwhile, was 31 months in 2017, above the 2015 and 2016 levels of 26.5 and 27, respectively.

A study released last year by Korn Ferry revealed that CMOs have the shortest tenures in the C-suite. In that research, which analyzed the top 1,000 US companies by revenue, CMOs were found to have an average tenure about half that of CEOs (4.1 years and 8 years, respectively).

The increase in tenure shown in the Spencer Stuart study is the result of – not surprisingly – a larger share of longer-term CMOs. In this case, longer-term refers to those who have been in their role for at least 3 years: in 2017, 42% could lay claim to that level of longevity, up from 34% in 2016.

Aspiring to a CMO position? Previous experience isn’t necessary: two-thirds (68%) of CMOs at the brands analyzed by Spencer Stuart are first-timers. It also isn’t a necessity to climb the corporate ladder, although it does help: slightly more than 6 in 10 CMOs at these brands were internally promoted.

As for the 21 CMOs who were new last year? It’s a small sample set to derive many conclusions from, but compared to the overall sample they are: less likely to have been internally promoted; less likely to be first-timers; more likely to be female (38% vs. 28% for the overall set); and more likely to be diverse (29% vs. 11% for the overall set).

The analysis notes that the new CMOs in 2017 had a higher female and minority representation than the new CMOs in 2016.

About the Data: The CMO tenure data is based on an analysis of the tenures of CMOS from 100 of the top US most advertised brands as of December 31, 2017.

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