The five strategies of Frontier CMOs

Jeff Greenspoon

CEO, dentsu Canada

thought leadership

Today’s CMO’s are facing the direct impact of COVID-19, like the resulting budget slashes and the unknown of the foreseeable future. In the dentsu CMO survey 2020, we uncovered the unique challenges CMOs face this year, but more importantly, the five strategies a new breed of Frontier CMOs are using to recover and steer their brands into success .

We launched this global survey—the largest of its kind—two years ago, to look at how brands could successfully harness digital technologies to deliver better customer experiences, innovations and transformation. This year, as you can imagine, the survey results told a different story. We surveyed approximately 1,350 CMOs across 12 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific to explore how brands can navigate a new kind of recovery.

It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted almost all brands, but we also learned that for some, it has actually been helpful. Notably, 24% of CMOs in India report a positive impact. For others, it’s meant significant business impacts or existential threats and for 62%, a flattened or reduced marketing budget.

One thing that’s clear is that the biggest challenge brands are facing is understanding which consumer behaviours will change permanently vs temporarily as a result of COVID. There is no playbook for what we’re experience right now. But while nearly half of CMOs are using approaches from previous recessions, we saw that some Frontier CMOs are innovating and adapting to place their brands well for recovery with five leading strategies:

    1. Hyper-empathy: Understanding existing and new consumers more deeply and updating that knowledge in real-time
    2. Hyper-agility: Acting like a start-up and turning consumer insight into the rapid development of new, relevant messaging, products and services
    3. Hyper-collaboration: Integrating across the C-suite and other departments and internal departments as well as external partners
    4. Hyper-consolidation: Rationalising portfolios and prioritising larger, more resilient brands that are better able to survive periods of economic fragility
    5. Hyper-transparency: Ensuring that all elements of how brands operate stand up to extreme external scrutiny, from supply chains to employee well-being and consumer engagement

With these strategies, the Frontier CMOs are reasserting the strategic role of marketing with a focus on product development. But this is also where agencies can step in and continue to deliver innovation, tech and data while fostering a long-term business partnership for growth, delivering new insights and trends proactively.

Read the full report to learn more about these winning strategies and the experiences of CMOS around the world.