Dentsu - CMOs using old strategies to manage COVID challenges

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 16 October 2020
Wendy Clark

Australia is the second highest market in the Asia Pacific to predict marketing budgets to decline over the next year, according to Dentsu research which highlights concerns that marketers are reverting to old habits in response to the current recession.

The CMO Survey 2020, a global study of 1,361 CMOs across 12 markets, found that despite repeated advice against brands “going dark” during a recession, nearly two-thirds, 62%, of CMOs recount that their marketing budgets are forecast to decline or remain flat over the next 12 months.

In Asia Pacific, Australia is the second highest market to predict marketing budget to decline at 36%. Meanwhile, China is the second highest, 56%, to predict budget increases in the coming year.

The study also found that half, 49%, of CMOs are basing their response to this unprecedented coronavirus crisis on strategies used during previous recessions.

Globally, just one in ten CMOs are looking at entirely new strategies. In Asia Pacific, nearly half, 46%, in India are using ‘completely’ similar strategies to those pursued in previous recessions, compared to 17% global average. On the other hand, only 6% in China are doing so.

“Exceptional times call for exceptional thinking. The COVID-19 global health crisis has yielded an incisive economic downturn that creates an unknown and largely unpredictable environment for CMOs to navigate,” says Wendy Clark, global CEO of dentsu.

“And our survey reveals there is a risk that CMOs are still using existing approaches to manage a challenge that is without precedent.”

However, the study did reveal a new style of marketing leadership is emerging, the “Frontier CMOs”, which are significantly more likely to be accountable for digital transformation than other CMOs. Frontier CMOs focus on a handful of key strategies;

  1. Hyper-empathy: Developing superior consumer intelligence
  2. Hyper-agility: Rapid development of new messaging, products and services
  3. Hyper-collaboration: Integration across all elements of the marketing mix
  4. Hyper-consolidation: Building resilience across brands and through M&A
  5. Hyper-transparency: Ensuring purpose permeates all aspects of the business

“These CMOs are putting consumer intelligence at the heart of their brands, matched by deep integration across all elements of the marketing mix and radical collaboration as a default across their business,” Clark says.

“Product development is firmly back on the agenda also, in order to deliver helpful consumer experiences and societal progress. These Frontier CMOs are reclaiming the strategic marketing agenda and, instead of buying into the idea that marketing’s role has somehow been denuded, they’re now leading their brands to recovery and growth.”

More than 450 CMOs from Australia, China, India and Japan were surveyed.


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