According to a recent McKinsey report, as many as 30% to 40% of US consumers switched brands or retailers over a three-month period — driven largely in search of value but also by factors like product availability, quality and purpose.
As companies work to stay afloat during the pandemic, the role of marketers has evolved, and it’s no longer sufficient for today’s chief marketers to focus solely on their customers. Instead, they will be expected to develop strategies that reflect rapidly-changing market dynamics, accounting for all stakeholders, and aligning with broader business development goals.
Let’s take a look at some of the areas and influences of the market to which CMOs should pay attention.
Market Influences on the Customer Journey
While most marketers have a requisite understanding of their consumers, the pandemic has changed consumer behavior, affecting the entire customer journey. This means, beyond having an understanding of consumer behavior, marketers need to understand how external factors such as social and political events influence consumers, and thus their marketing strategies.
With brand loyalty low and the cost of acquiring new customers high, marketers will need to ensure their teams have access to holistic customer data, and be able to hone in on sentiments to effectively communicate brand messages and campaigns, no matter the modality or channel.
Beyond this, CMOs must remain informed about global issues and trends, not only for the way it might impact their own brand, but also for building positive customer experiences. Consider, for example, supply chain issues stemming from the pandemic. As supply chain challenges continue to impact retailers’ ability to get products to consumers, marketers must be able to adapt their marketing strategies, and that starts with understanding what impacts the global marketplace.
Authenticity and empathy have become extremely valuable traits for many consumers, and they now look for those characteristics to come across in branding and marketing before they will make purchases. CMOs need to make sure their brand represents these characteristics in a meaningful way, and it starts internally with emphasizing an empathetic and genuine culture across their teams. CMOs who lead with empathy and authenticity will be the most effective going forward.
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Data and Market Consolidation
Data and technology have long been essential to marketers. For years, marketers have been tasked with trying to establish a data-driven marketing strategy that prioritizes personalization and privacy.
Marketers’ need for consistent data and a proliferation in the number of digital channels has led to a significant increase of data management and analytics tools, and, in turn, a tipping point for consolidation among vendors. With that, CMOs will need to be much more knowledgeable when it comes to decisions such as selecting the right CDP for their business and marketing strategy.
For CMOs to invest wisely in their marketing tech stack, distinguishing a true CDP from a CDP-like solution is key. Many vendors are now positioning data solutions with CDP-like capabilities built onto their existing marketing clouds. However, these offerings often only address a piece of the larger data problem CMOs care about, ultimately delivering just another data warehouse or management tool — and not a fully integrated data ecosystem.
Understanding the market and technology that they will need to implement the most effective data-driven strategies will become even more critical, especially as M&A activity continues to explode while companies look to fill the gaps they have in technology.
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Understanding the Tech and Talent Market
Today, marketers are needing to restructure their martech stack as a result of accelerated digital transformation. For CMOs to help move businesses forward in today's digital age, it's important for them to understand that being digitally-savvy is a prerequisite for understanding and surpassing the competition. Recent surveys suggest that marketing leaders are falling behind in their understanding of the importance, uses and benefits of technology to the business today.
On the contrary, CMOs are leading their organizations in understanding how to apply technology for business benefit. A survey we recently conducted of 800 marketers globally revealed that the CMO is the person most likely, at 52%, to be driving the digital customer journey today. That far outpaces chief digital officers and even chief information officers. Marketing teams that have tech skills beyond a foundational understanding will be that much more valuable to the overall business, and CMOs who proactively work to close the tech skills gap are more effective.
For example, the emergence of more low-code or no-code solutions is allowing teams to take advantage of AI and machine learning tools for faster decision-making rather than waiting for IT help. In turn, IT teams have more time to prioritize larger scale digital initiatives.
Why Marketing's No Longer Just Marketing
The complex digital and physical environment we live in today is proof that marketers need to be thinking broadly about not only their marketing strategies, but their business at large. It has been proven that companies can only maintain a competitive advantage when they execute on strategies keeping in pace with the speed of the world. Thus, marketers can no longer focus solely on marketing efforts; they must instead lean into the idea that markets is the new "M" in CMO.