Biggest Challenge for CMOs? Understanding Consumer Behavior Changes

November 4, 2020

DentsuAegis Challenges Expected by CMOs Nov2020Although global marketers are faced with immediate challenges including budget cuts and the need to revamp strategies due to the global pandemic, they are still looking ahead and evaluating what challenges they are bound to face in the coming 6 to 12 months. And, for two-fifths of CMOs around the world, understanding what consumer behaviors are temporary or permanent is one of the greatest challenges they expect to deal with, per a recent report [download page] from Dentsu Aegis Network.

Drilling down to US respondents, the study found that CMOs in the US likewise feel that their top coming challenge will be trying to understand which consumer behaviors are bound to stick around versus those that are short-term. Globally and in the US, specifically, senior marketers are also expecting to face declining consumer spending (global: 39%; US: 41%), as well as decreasing marketing budgets (global: 26%; US: 25%).

While CMOs in the US are more likely than the global average to see managing changes to the workforce as an upcoming challenge (33% vs. 22%), they are a little less likely than the global average to be concerned about some other challenges, including aligning with new or changing customer sentiment (35% vs. 39%), obtaining the right data to make timely and appropriate decisions (27% vs. 32%) and disruptions in the supply chain (21% vs. 25%).

Comparing CMOs who say they are prepared for the coming 6 to 12 months (global: 42%; US: 48%), to those who feel unprepared, more prepared CMOs express concern over aligning with new or changing consumer sentiments (38%) than do unprepared CMOs (33%). By contrast, more unprepared CMOs see declining consumer spending as an upcoming challenge (47% vs. 35%). And, although 62% of total respondents (54% in the US) foresee declines in their marketing budget over the next year, 29% of unprepared CMOs see this as a challenge, compared to 20% of prepared CMOs.

Prepared vs. Unprepared CMOs

Recent research found that the pandemic has precipitated a majority of CMOs to change their customer experience strategy. On that topic, Dentsu’s survey indicates that prepared CMOs see marketing’s top 3 roles right now to be developing customer experience, leading disruptive innovation and developing new products or services. It helps that prepared CMOs appear to have the backing of their organizations, especially when it comes to those who say their organization is “highly able” to invest in their customer experience (54%) and innovation (47%) strategies.

In the meantime, unprepared CMOs continue to see their role much as it has been in the past, and focusing on delivering business growth and business transformation, as well as price optimization.

Furthermore, not only do 43% of prepared CMOs feel that the pandemic has increased the importance of marketing in their organization (compared to 26% of unprepared CMOs), but half say COVID-19 has either helped (18%) or minimally disrupted (33%) business. Seven in 10 also say their total global revenue increased in the past year.

By contrast, only one-quarter of unprepared CMOs say the pandemic has helped (1%) or minimally disrupted business (24%), while fewer than half (48%) have seen their global revenue increase in the past 12 months.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Results are based on a May 2020 survey of 1,350 CMOs or equivalent senior marketing decision-makers across 12 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific, 40% of whom are from countries with more than 1,000 employees.

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