- Following the elimination of the CMO role at a number of large organizations this year, the remaining marketing chiefs will find themselves in a "desperate fight for survival," in 2020, Forrester forecasts in a new report shared with sister publication Marketing Dive. The key to survival will be establishing control over the customer experience in order to provide value, per the report titled "Predictions 2020: CMO."
- Successful CMOs will no longer be exclusively focused on marketing but will be centrally responsible for "customer obsession" by expanding their control to also include customer experience, company values, brand innovation and employee experience.
- The key task, says the report, is aligning resources so that brand value can be generated and delivered quickly to customers. While Forrester predicts that less than 10% of CMOs will actually assume that level of control next year, the role will be clarified as having that central responsibility.
Forrester, in its forecast, points to the elimination of the CMO position at dozens of high-profile brands, including Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg's, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Netflix and Walmart as evidence that the role is under attack. It also cites the 20-year-old transition to digital as the key force behind the transformation of CMOs from brand-builders to data-focused, short-term revenue drivers.
"But the reality is that most CMOs haven't effectively navigated this transition," the Forrester report says. "2020 marks the beginning of a final desperate fight for survival."
The pressures on CMOs in the year ahead include that many brands have shifted their focus around corporate responsibility. This year, Forrester noted, 181 CEOs adjusted the priority for their companies from serving shareholders to serving all stakeholders, adding customers, employees, suppliers and broader communities.
Another shift: CMOs are going beyond storytelling to becoming story makers. Forrester points to the use of aggregated health data from the Apple Watch to help save lives, for example, a value that the tech giant can now add to its brand identity. And Nike Adventure Club's sneaker subscription for kids delivers a personalized experience that includes donating outgrown sneakers, thereby creating a lifetime customer relationship.
Better using tech to inform their creative efforts could help CMOs gain an edge as story makers. In June, a separate Forrester report described a creative rut experienced by many chief marketers as their customer experiences resemble others. It recommended that some of the $19 billion intended for tech be shifted to more creative efforts that could make customer experiences more unique and memorable. A report from research firm Gartner recommended CMOs (or whatever their successor roles are called) focus on creative engagement and business strategy to best utilize the boom in tech spending for delivering unique brand experiences. A key driver on that front is that marketers are facing expectations to show ROI from technology investments as those investments have grown.
Ultimately, Forrester forecasts that one designated executive will be responsible for everything related to the customer, but there is no guarantee that this will be a CMO.