- Chief marketing officers next year will need to reinvent their roles at U.S. companies to make the consumer experience central to their operations, expanding beyond the management of advertising and promotional activities, Forrester Research said in a report emailed to Marketing Dive.
- Economic challenges going into 2021 will expose the deficiencies of some marketing technology, systems and processes that were able to survive under stronger growth. CMOs can expect a year of reduced media budgets, fewer internal resources and less support from advertising partners like agencies and ad tech companies, according to Forrester.
- To survive the tumultuous times ahead, CMOs will need to foster diversity and inclusion among their teams to reflect changes in the marketplace, upend their business models to prioritize consumer experiences and focus on retaining their most valuable customers. In addition, CMOs will need to be more engaged with their employees and show leadership by getting things done rather than delegating key priorities. This reinvention will help to create new opportunities for businesses coping with the disruptions of the pandemic.
CMOs face a challenging year ahead as the pandemic disrupts consumer behavior and they have fewer financial resources to support marketing programs, according to Forrester. The company's best-case scenario predicts that overall marketing spending in the U.S. will decline by 30% from the end of last year to the beginning of 2022, echoing an earlier prediction that the advertising industry will shed thousands of jobs and leave CMOs with fewer resources from outside agencies. The disruptions will compel CMOs to take on more responsibilities to improve the customer experience and brand loyalty, according to Forrester's report.
"Outdated CMOs — those content to run promotions, sales support, or media buying teams — won't be able to hide their lightweight contributions behind the strong returns of a good economy," the report said. "Chief marketing officers need to drive customer obsession at their firms, rather than just guiding ad buying and promotions."
Forrester previously had warned that CMOs were in a "desperate fight for survival" as more companies eliminated the role as technological changes demanded a more holistic approach to generating revenue.
Diversity and inclusion will continue to be key themes next year, which will support creative ways of engaging consumers and boost returns on marketing spending, Forrester said. The company recommends that companies make "belonging" a key part of their team culture, and avoid prolonging existing marketing stereotypes that will alienate consumers. Already, there are many signs that marketers have prioritized diversity as they grapple with removing racial stereotypes from their branding and promote inclusion of the LGTBQ community.
Forrester's predictions follow a recent survey of CMOs that outlined many of the challenges they expect in the next six to 12 months. The biggest concerns are determining what consumer behavior is temporary versus permanent (43%), declining consumer spending (41%) and aligning with new and changing customer sentiments (35%), according to a yearly CMO survey by agency holding company Dentsu. That study found that 45% of CMOs expect to see increased marketing budgets next year, while 54% are predicting cuts, a sign that many companies see value in maintaining visibility in the marketplace with their promotional activities.