Rahul Sachitanand
Oct 16, 2020

Six takeaways from Forrester's predictions for CMOs in 2021

In a time of intense flux, sweeping changes could affect everything from purpose to customer loyalty and cause an existential crisis for CMOs.

Six takeaways from Forrester's predictions for CMOs in 2021

In a market filled with so much pandemic-driven uncertainty, chief marketing officers face a turbulent 12 months ahead, according to a new Forrester report. The churn in the market may be driven by an existential crisis for CMOs themselves, even as they recast their operations and rethink where to invest their hotly contested marketing budget.

Here are six things we learnt from Forrester's research: 

1.  The new CMO

From a time of managing operations distantly, the Covid-19 crisis will compel marketing chiefs to take a more hands-on approach to their units. What's more, there is expected to be a strong focus on integrating marketing and customer experience. Segregating acquisition from everything that happens after a prospect completes a purchase was always a bad idea, the report reckons. Now, the pandemic has made this disjointed strategy perilous, necessitating a sharp surge in customer loyalty from CMOs looking to get a grip on a fast-changing marketing universe. Forrester predicts spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30% in 2021.

2. Purpose and profits 

The the number of Certified B Corporations in Asia Pacific is set to increase by more than 25% to reach 500 in 2021, up from 394 in September 2020, the researcher forecasts. To win and retain the hearts and wallets of these consumers, firms must adopt corporate strategies and frameworks that better balance purpose and profit. 

3. Rethinking plans and investments in CX

Firms will cut customer experience (CX) technology spend in 2021 but will actually improve CX.
As organization evaluate tech spend, marketing departments will consolidate their investments in CX tools and technologies and focus on strategic initiatives to make them more customer-friendly. 

4. Platform wars heat up 

Amazon’s expanded offerings and the rapid emergence of Jio Platforms will ignite a platform war in India, one that also includes Flipkart and Paytm. Beyond big tech, competition across the region will also intensify: among Alibaba, JD.com, and Pinduoduo in China; among Gojek, Grab, and Shopee in Southeast Asia; and among banks, tech companies, payment firms, and accounting software providers racing to build small business ecosystems.

In 2021, firms will shift from experimenting to connecting the ecosystems essential to their customers, such as healthcare, consumer goods, and manufacturing, while pulling investment from nonessential areas like travel. 

5. The 5G era dawns 

China will test and scale successful innovative business models in 2021, leading in 5G rollouts for both carriers and users. In 2021, Forrester predicts early breakout ideas built around 5G-enabled business models to emerge in China, with fast-follower markets in Southeast Asia benefiting from these pioneers in 2022. 

6. B2B marketers take the tech plunge 

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the digital plans of B2B buyers and marketers. B2B marketers must quickly adopt new technologies as buyer engagement preferences shift toward digital channels. Given this, Forrester predicts over a third of B2B technology buyers will rate chatbots as a top-10 engagement channel. As these marketers lean more heavily on this technology crutch, 57% of B2B sales leaders revealed they plan to make deeper investments in tools with AI and automation in the upcoming fiscal year. This researcher expects that in 2021, over  60% of B2B sellers will be enabled by AI and automation.

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