Jessica Goodfellow
Oct 29, 2019

CMOs face ‘final desperate fight for survival’ in 2020: Forrester

CMOs need to take control of the entire customer journey, invest in participatory purpose-led experiences, and become more strategic in technology spend to secure their future, the firm suggests.

CMOs face ‘final desperate fight for survival’ in 2020: Forrester

Following a year in which dozens of high-profile brands have eliminated CMO positions, Forrester is predicting 2020 will bring a “desperate fight for survival” for the chief marketing position, with those who remain expected to take on an ever-widening remit.

The CMO role has transformed from a “long-term brand-building growth captain to a quarter-disciplined and data-focused operator” over the past two decades, Forrester said, a “painful transition” that has caused some of the top global brands to shed the title this year. This includes Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s, Netflix and Walmart.

In its Predictions 2020: CMO report, Forrester said the remaining CMOs must now demonstrate their value as generators of customer outcomes. Forrester is not foretelling an end to the CMO role, but said 2020 will mark the beginning of the “final desperate fight”.

“Those who succeed will do so by being accountable for it all—the brand, communications, sales enablement, CX, and technology selection—while influencing the employee experience and driving the innovation and change that customer obsession requires,” the firm said.

While it has suggested the CMO of the future will become responsible for all that surrounds the customer—including innovation, marketing, operations, media, and sales—Forrester expects fewer than 10% of those with the CMO title to elevate to this.

The chief marketer will also “become crucial to employee loyalty and acquiring top talent”, the firm predicted, by delivering on the brand’s beliefs in much the same way they do to drive customer acquisition and retention.

CMOs can futureproof themselves by investing in participatory purpose-led customer experiences, such as those that reward brand loyalty with some form of ‘giving back’, Forrester noted. It named as examples Apple’s initiative to encourage its Watch users to contribute their data to health research, and Nike’s kids sneaker subscription.

Moreover, it suggested CMOs will have to consider much more strategic investment in technology, to prevent “overzealous upgrades” that have no strategy behind them.

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