The chief marketing officer's job is more complex than ever. And while each situation is unique, CMOs also share some common challenges, among them to do more with less, to develop internal teams, and to innovate for long-term momentum—all of which requires staying on top of ever-changing business and consumer trends. The following 10 megatrends, for example, all have serious strategic implications for today’s chief marketer, according to First Tennessee CMO Dan Marks.
We are three years into what will likely be a long period of slow growth, a result of the huge debt overhang that has built up around the world. For nearly 30 years, debt has grown faster than income, which probably added one percentage point to GDP growth for nearly three decades. There have been some positive signs recently, though, such as the U.S. saving rate rebounding to around 5% to 6%, but because debt levels are still very high, growth is likely to be no more than income growth.
Both the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations receive much attention, but we are likely to see some surprises. Fewer than half of all Boomers have enough assets to retire at 65, which means they will need to work longer than they expected to. Millienials are now turning 30, which means they are entering a prime earning period while also going through multiple life transitions, such as marriage and children, all of which have profound effects on purchasing patterns and preferences. In addition, we are starting to see population growth slow and, in some Western countries, drop. This will have a long-term impact on demand for all our products.
A tougher market puts even more emphasis on using resources productively. Marketers increasingly report they are being asked for full ROI accountability for the entire budget. And the metrics are evolving: According to the Leskold Group, nearly a third of marketers now say they rely on full financial ROI, rather than historical metrics, when demonstrating results.
Leading marketers are turning to increasingly sophisticated analytics, such as statistical modeling, real-time buying, multivariate testing, and media-mix modeling to understand the individual and cross-channel impact of their marketing programs.
A full 84% of customers trust third-party reviews for information related to the buying process. Consumers are increasingly searching for information before purchase—even about incidental items such as soap—and they're increasingly doing so in-store from their smartphones. This puts an even greater emphasis on tailoring marketing execution to be at the right place at the right time.
Customers expect to get access to the same products, services, and help across all of our distribution points–store, Web, salesperson, phone, etc. Are you working with the operations groups to meet this need, or are you letting your competitors meet the need better?
The old rules still apply, but there are new tools in the areas of segmentation and research that can be tapped to understand our customers even better than we did before. Do you truly know your most profitable segments of customers, and what would motivate more of them to buy from you rather than from your competitors?
Have you crafted a clearly differentiated brand promise and then rigorously measured how all of your different distribution points are doing in delivering against that promised experience? Leading marketers are doing so, and, as a result, their companies are winning profitable share in an increasingly service-driven economy.
We’ve heard about mobile marketing for 10 years, but in the past couple it has started to explode. As a critical mass and soon a majority of consumers realize they have with them at all times a device that can do even more than a PC, it will fundamentally change shopping and buying decisions. For example, banks such as First Tennessee now let customers deposit checks by just snapping a picture of the check from a secure mobile app.
More than half of the population has a social media profile, with usage growing at double-digit rates. This is a phenomenal advancement in human communication, and we are still in the early stages of seeing how it will shape marketing. The companies that experiment now and learn how the channel can help evolve their strategies will be the leaders tomorrow.