- Forbes has debuted its first-ever CMO Next list detailing the top 50 chief marketers or equivalent positions who are redefining the role, per news shared with Marketing Dive. Forbes used qualitative research from industry watchers and editorial analysis to compile the list, which the publisher noted is not a ranking but instead a means of recognizing important talent.
- The list span leaders from a variety of business categories, including startups, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands and established companies. Some of those who made the list include: Ed Macri, Wayfair's chief product and marketing officer; Melina Engle, CMO of SimpliSafe; Jackson Jeyanayagam, CMO, Boxed; and Jennifer Sey, CMO global brands, Levi Strauss & Co. The full list is available to view on Forbes' website.
- More than half of the CMOs on the list are women. The list-makers come from a variety of backgrounds, such as digital, tech and retail. About 20% previously worked at agencies, and several have created internal agencies and in-house marketing functions.
As the CMO role continues to experience disruption, evolving past creative and branding duties to handle areas like growth and technological innovation, Forbes is looking to highlight leaders who are handling that change with agility and becoming trend-setters in their own right. The appearance of several marketers from DTC and startup companies, such as Casper, Boxed and others, underscores how these young brands are becoming more significant players in their respective categories and are impacting legacy players that have commanded market share for generations.
Newer, DTC brands are growing because they are able to focus on direct consumer relationships and have more agile supply chains that can quickly adapt to consumers' needs, per research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Other marketers included on the list from larger, more established companies have led successful campaigns to reinvent their brands, leading to sales growth.
Other factors that contributed to Forbes' list, such as the prominence of leaders who have fostered in-house marketing teams and strategies, are instructive in terms of where the industry is heading overall. The number of advertisers with in-house agencies has increased from 42% a decade ago to 64% today, with knowledge of the brand and business cited as top reasons for developing internal shops, according to a recent report from Forrester Research and the In-House Agency Forum.
Also noteworthy is the growing level of diversity in the boardroom. Women comprise more than half of the CMOs on Forbes' list. While women play a large role in the marketing world, this has not always been reflected in leadership positions. According to a recent Association of National Advertisers' survey, just 45% of CMOs at member companies are women despite the industry overall being "overwhelming" female.