CMOs facing identity crisis: report

Latest EIU and SAS report on manufacturing CMOs shows lack of understanding and belief in their abilities from the rest of the C-suite

A new vendor-sponsored report claims chief marketing officers at manufacturing companies are in the midst of an identity crisis as they struggle to deliver a satisfying customer experience.

Two new whitepapers, undertaken by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by software vendor SAS, comes off the back of the EIU’s report last year, Outside looking in: The CMO struggles to get in sync with the C-suite .

Fifty-eight per cent of manufacturing marketing chiefs believe they are good at delivering customer insights that drive business, but only 43 per cent of their other C-level executives agree. In addition, EIU found 78 per cent of manufacturing CMOs claim to have a clear understanding of their customers’ needs, against 47 per cent of their executive peers.

In another sign of the disconnect between manufacturing CMOs and their executive peers, 18 per cent of CMOs surveyed claimed to be “excellent” and 38 per cent “good” at establishing a clear business case for new marketing investments, yet only one-third of C-suite respondents agreed. Twenty-eight per cent said CMOs in fact lacked ability in this area.

The EIU report also found 55 per cent of surveyed CMOs reported the performance of their company’s marketing investments was ahead of peers in the last year, but only 30 per cent of other executives agreed.

The results are yet another indication of how CMOs are struggling to define their role both to within their own function, as well as to their executive peers. In the original EIU survey on the relationship between CMOs and the c-suite, released last July, the research firm claimed to be alarmed by the lack of clear consensus on marketing’s top priority, as indicated by a host of results across all industry sectors.

For example, 19 per cent of CMOs said driving revenue growth was their top priority against 30 per cent of other C-suite executives. Twenty-two per cent of marketers also claimed creating new products and services was the top priority, yet just nine per cent of their C-level peers agreed.

In addition, 70 per cent of CMOs believe they should play a lead or key role in selecting new markets to enter, compared with 56 per cent of their C-suite peers. Nearly half those surveyed also claimed a disconnect over what marketing should be delivering.

“Part of the issue may be that the CMOs oversees what is arguably the broadest and most dynamic mix of disciplines among all c-suite positions,” the original EIU report stated. “While this far-reaching portfolio presents an opportunity for CMOs to increase marketing’s influence across an organisation, it also highlights their greatest challenge: getting everyone to agree on marketing’s priorities.”

The key lies in connecting customer insights to strategic business innovation across all channels and functions, the EIU report stated.

“If marketing can provide a more comprehensive view of how a customer interacts with the business as a whole, it stands to gain more credibility and more influence in driving strategic change.”

EIU’s report was based on responses from 389 executives across the world, followed by a series of in-depth interviews.

More on the CMO role

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