Shifting customer behaviours that amplify uncertainty, burdensome cross-functional collaboration that yields worse organisational outcomes and disruptive market dynamics that erode traditional sources of brand value are the three key trends that will impact CMOs in 2023.
That’s according to analysis by Gartner, which says the current environment demands a relentless focus on customer value, purposeful evolution of the marketing function, and continual optimisation of brand value.
Ewan McIntyre, Chief of Research in the Gartner Marketing practice, said: “In order to meet the enterprise mandate of driving growth amid continued disruption, CMOs must act decisively to prioritize their investments and their strategy for the year ahead.”
Trend 1: Shifting customer behaviors amplify uncertainty
Amid inflation and economic uncertainty, customer demand and buying behaviors will fluctuate unpredictably. Inflation is driving cost-cutting behaviors, with 30% of consumers buying more store brands, and almost a fifth reducing in-person shopping visits in favor of digital buying, according to a Gartner survey of more than 1,500 consumers in September 2022. This will challenge established brands to maintain brand preference, premiums and loyalty.
In addition, the majority of consumers and B2B buyers will increasingly withhold the personal data necessary to effectively track demand or respond with multichannel engagement, exacerbating CMOs’ data challenges. Evolving regulatory and technical safeguards of consumer data privacy, including browser cookie deprecation and new privacy features in iOS and Android, are also making proven digital marketing tactics obsolete.
“Marketing leaders should create a digital customer value exchange to provide mutual value on digital channels throughout the full cross-channel journey,” McIntyre said. “Enhance the effectiveness of digital marketing by seeking opportunities for personalized engagements that genuinely help customers throughout their end-to-end customer journeys.”
Trend 2: Cross-functional collaboration yields worse outcomes
Strategic marketing priorities, such as innovation, customer experience (CX), and digital commerce, have transcended functional boundaries and are now enterprise-wide priorities with complex cross-functional execution. Shared priorities may draw funding away from marketing departments that have yet to see their budgets return to pre-pandemic levels and taxes already-strained marketing teams, resulting in lower performance against critical marketing goals.
A March 2022 Gartner survey of 405 senior marketing leaders found that those who describe their approach as “independent” outperform self-described “collaborators” on annual revenue targets by almost a quarter. While marketing leaders believe they should take a collaborative approach in theory, those who do in practice are less likely to exceed their customer acquisition goals.
“CMOs must adapt team structures and skills to advance new cross-functional operating models. Streamline operations, establish common key performance indicators (KPIs), and orchestrate messaging throughout the customer experience for greater effectiveness of marketing, sales, and other customer-facing teams,” McIntyre said.
Trend 3: Disruptive market dynamics erode traditional sources of brand value
Traditional sources of brand value, such as brand reach, positive brand sentiment, or perceived differentiation are under pressure amid new forces: disruptive market entrants, heightened audience expectations, and the ease of digital learning about unfamiliar brands. Audiences face disruption at each stage along the traditional linear path to brand value:
- Awareness: Disruptive market entrants require established brands to reposition themselves to remain competitive, challenging all brands to build and maintain awareness through emerging channels and innovative strategies.
- Consideration: Over half the 1,999 employees, consumers and B2B buyers that Gartner surveyed in June and July 2022 said it’s less important to choose a well-known brand today than it was 3 years ago.
- Brand Loyalty: The same survey revealed 75% of audiences have searched online for information about a previously unfamiliar brand while shopping, and only 15% of audiences report being committed to a given familiar brand, eroding the value of having a strong brand at the point of decision.
“CMOs must redefine and quickly demonstrate the value of brand investments in a volatile environment,” McIntyre added. “The strongest driver of brand commitment is a single meaningful brand experience, even with unfamiliar brands.”