Report: Marketers struggling to adapt activity to local market needs

Latest CMO Council report finds speed of execution and the rise of digital channels to be a significant barrier in how brands adapt marketing campaigns and creative to localisation needs

Marketing leaders are increasingly struggling to adapt campaigns and creative activity to local market needs in a timely manner, a new CMO Council report has found.

The latest report, entitled The Age of Adaptive Marketer, found two-thirds of marketers see their organisation and agency efforts to localise and adapt creative campaigns as below par, with only 33 per cent rating their in-house and agency teams as ‘advanced’ or ‘doing well’ in terms of timeliness and capacity to simultaneously support global and local execution.

One of the top hurdles is speed of execution. Less than half of respondents can deploy localised content across both physical and digital touchpoints within weeks of a campaign launch.

Top five process challenges according to the report are shortening turnaround times (47 per cent), ensuring quality and uniformity with brand guidelines (43 per cent), end-to-end workflow management (38 per cent), delivering creative on time (36 per cent), and measuring the creative appeal and impact of content (36 per cent).  

In addition, one in five were satisfied with their creativity delivery process and marketing supply chain effectiveness. Only 20 per cent are using online approval and proofing systems to accelerate modifications across geographies, and half are spending less than 5 per cent of their marketing budget for creative adaptation and cross-cultural localisation.

Of course, all of these challenges are just being exacerbated thanks to the complexity of channels, geographic footprint, digital formats and demand for more relevant content, all while keeping costs down. Factors that are putting pressure on creative teams include localisation demands such as language and cultural values (48 per cent), new digital formats (44 per cent), the need for visually enriched and engaging content pieces (43 per cent) and financial and operational cost reductions (41 per cent).

But the study found many organisations just aren’t taking the steps they need to in order to improve their ability to adapt content. For example, only 18 per cent of respondents had completed a formal assessment of their creative delivery process and marketing supply chain effectiveness.

There’s also the state of the supply chain to consider. The report found only 13 per cent of marketers have a single agency partner, and most are using a combination of multiple creative partners and contractors to meet their brand marketing needs. In addition, 28 per cent said they’re working with multiple creative teams across multiple regions, and 20 per cent have turned over creative adaptation to local teams.

CMO Council executive director, Donovan Neale-May, said that at a time when customers have higher expectations than ever around relevance and personalisation of content, brands are failing them.

“Marketing organisations will need to step up their game when it comes to brand content adaptation to address geographic, cultural, customer and other differences,” he said. “Past research has shown that adaptation of marketing strategies and content can be a major enabler of sales and brand success. Yet most companies have a long way to go in order to get it right.”

The CMO Council report was development in partnership with HH Global and based on a survey of 150 senior marketers in Q2, 2017.

It also looked at what marketers considered the most essential assets and elements produced by their creative teams to be. Top of the list was design ideation, conception and specification (78 per cent), followed by digital advertising (67 per cent), website design and content (67 per cent) and copywriting (57 per cent).

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