A small number of innovative chief marketing officers are helping their organizations generate shareholder returns 11 percent higher than those of their industry peers by delivering hyper-relevant customer experiences, according to a new report from Accenture.
Based on a survey of nearly 1,000 CMOs and more than 500 CEOs at the world’s largest organizations, the report, Way Beyond Marketing—The Rise of The Hyper-Relevant CMO, found that these marketing leaders—the top 17 percent—are driving transformational change at the highest levels of their organizations, helping them respond quickly to changing customer needs by rewiring their organizations to enable better integration and collaboration and deliver superior customer experiences.
“These marketing leaders are finding creative ways to reinvent the customer experience, which is setting them apart from competitors,” said John Zealley, who leads Accenture’s Customer Insight & Growth practice, in a news release. “They are challenging the status quo of traditional organizational structures, taking the reins of innovation and disruptive growth and unlocking value through new C-suite collaborations. Their actions are enabling organizations to become what we call ‘living businesses’—able to constantly anticipate and respond to changing customer needs at speed and deliver significant business value.”
Marketers leading the growth agenda
Nearly one-third (31 percent) of the CEOs surveyed expect CMOs to drive growth using customer data and insights to create new products, services and experiences. The study found that innovative CMOs (the top 17 percent) actively partner with others in the C-suite to create customer-obsessed organizational cultures. Far more likely than their industry peers to spend most of their time driving disruptive growth, these CMOs also describe themselves as ‘innovators,’ using emerging technologies to predict customer behavior and identify untapped revenue streams.
“While the digital revolution has more than delivered in bringing companies closer to their customers, many large incumbents have struggled to capitalize on the growth opportunity,” said Glen Hartman, head of Accenture Interactive, North America, in the release. “To truly become a ‘living business’ where companies are able to anticipate and respond to fast-changing consumer needs, they need to design experiences steeped with empathy for customers and enable cross-functional agility with a focus on helping customers achieve their goals.”
Purpose driving profit
With consumers increasingly buying from brands that have a clear purpose that aligns to their personal values and beliefs, leading CMOs understand the importance of being highly relevant to their customers’ lives. Three-quarters (76 percent) of CMOs believe that consumers have higher expectations today of a brand’s purpose. CEOs agree, with 70 percent saying that companies that stand for a bigger purpose achieve higher levels of commercial success.
New skills driving growth
As the role of marketers continues to undergo a profound shift, the vast majority (90 percent) of CEOs and CMOs agree that the function will change fundamentally over the next three years. The report notes that leading CMOs are ahead of the curve, thinking entirely differently about the kind of roles and skills their teams will need to be successful in the future—with immersive experience designers, storytellers, growth hackers and futurologists topping their list.
“CMOs need to lead an effective, joined-up customer experience at all touch points, at pace and at scale, to drive growth,” said Mhairi McEwan, managing director and marketing practice lead, Customer Insight & Growth at Accenture, in the release. “In essence, there are four key actions they must take: using advanced customer insight and analytics to shape the future; building the marketing and sales capabilities of their people and organization; leveraging partnerships to create innovative new products, services and solutions; and delivering cost-effective technological activation of personalized and scalable marketing programs.”
As part of a study exploring the CMO’s role in driving the growth agenda, Accenture surveyed 935 chief marketing officers and 564 CEOs across 17 industry groups in 12 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Participants from the survey, conducted between March and May 2018, were from companies with at least US$500 million in annual revenues.