Larry Chiagouris

Larry Chiagouris has collected quite a few titles over the course of his long career, including consumer behavior expert, marketing all-star and branding guru.

And even if you don't know his name, you likely know his work: He's contributed to some of the most memorable marketing campaigns of the past 20 years, including what may be the longest running print campaign in America, the Milk Moustache campaign.

A professor of marketing at the Lubin School of Business at Pace University in New York City, Chiagouris had been sharing his insights on marketing and advertising with students and executives for more than 25 years.

This week he's releasing a new survey on the state of digital marketing — and the results make one thing clear. There's plenty of room for improvement.

'You Gotta Do Better'

Chiagouris has held senior positions in advertising, public relations and Internet marketing, and has experience on both the agency and client sides of the business. His clients have ranged from startups to leading brands, including Campbell Soup, Miller Genuine Draft, Pfizer, Prudential and Visa. 

He has a bachelor's degree in economics from New York University, an MBA in Industrial Psychology from Baruch Graduate School of Business, an advanced professional certificate in Marketing from the Stern Graduate School of Business at New York University, an Master of Philosophy in Business from the City University of New York, and a PhD in Consumer Behavior from the City University of New York.

He presently serves on the Board of Directors of the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG).

The Conference Board, in collaboration with MENG, recently commissioned Chiagouris to conduct two nationwide surveys. His team interviewed nationally representative samples of 1,036 consumers and 272 senior marketing executives working at mid-sized or large companies on issues like social media, privacy, mobile and other topics.

The study was completed last month and the results will be presented tomorrow at the Conference Board Brand Reputation Conference at the Westin Times Square in New York City. But CMSWire readers get an advance look today.

Connecting with Bill Sobel
Sobel: What was the objective of the two surveys and what did you learn?

Chiagouris: We wanted to see how similar or different the views were between consumers and the marketing executives in respect to digital marketing.

Importantly, senior marketing professionals agree with consumers on some key issues. For example, the results indicate that social media is perceived by both groups as disruptive.

And 55 percent of senior marketing executives and 52 percent of consumers perceive social media as intrusive. In effect, the frequent complaint we hear in the news from consumers about their social media experiences are confirmed.

In addition, more than 39 percent of senior marketing executives question the value of data generated by analytics. They don’t think the information gleaned is useful to their businesses.

Executives at large companies were much more likely to view problems with social media data as not actionable compared to executives at mid-sized companies.

In effect, consumers and marketing professionals are telling us that as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube seek to monetize their offerings, they need to do a better job satisfying both the sponsor businesses and the consumers those businesses seek to reach.

We found 47 percent of consumers now regularly use a mobile device to search for information about companies and products, far higher than just a few years ago.

About a third of consumers indicated that they would accept receiving text messages on their mobile devices when entering a retail store.

That said, only 67 percent of the senior marketers feel that their companies are ready to take full advantage of the mobile opportunity.

Given that, we limited our survey to large or midsize companies, one would have expected that number to be higher than 67 percent.

In terms of privacy, we found about 60 percent of senior marketing professionals and 58 percent of consumers feel companies are not doing enough to protect the privacy of consumers.

We asked both groups as to their willingness to share biometric data in the form of their fingers prints with companies in order to have access to services provide by companies. 

Importantly consumers are very reluctant to share biometric data to access services provided by companies.

We asked the executives to grade their companies, their agencies or their team members on some key digital marketing functions. For the most part, the grade most employees received was a C.

In particular, in terms of digital marketing skills, the majority of executives do not believe team members are as skilled in the use of digital marketing as they need to be.

The good news-bad news implication to all of this? Given that there is room for improvement, we can look forward to better work in the future I know, that's being optimistic.

Finally, we asked the senior marketers a career related question. We asked if they had it all to do over again, would they choose a career in marketing. About 44 percent indicated that they would have chosen a different career other than marketing.

The complete presentation will be available at the MENG website on June 15.

Sobel: In the study you break out the issues: social media, privacy, mobile marketing and customer service, with the final one key challenges facing senior marketing executives. Can you give us your thoughts?

Chiagouris: We did quite a substantial amount of secondary research when we decided to do this new research. We examined publicly available information and scholarly data about how consumers and senior marketers feel about the issues of the day. 

We also conducted in depth interviews with senior marketers to arrive at the selection of topics.

The topics that they all generally agreed were important to understand were the basis of the surveys. Social media, privacy, mobile communications were the popular topics and that is why these topics were addressed. 

We also examined how satisfied marketing professionals are with their roles within their companies and their jobs. Without getting into all the details, survey results indicate that there is a lot of unrest now, not just on Madison Avenue, but also among the CMOs in corporate America. The challenges are quite substantial and much work will need to be done to deliver on meeting consumer needs.

Simpler Media Group, 2015