Dentsu Report Finds Disconnect Between CMO Perceptions and Consumer Expectations Around Ad Representation & Web 3.0

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  • 8 in 10 North American CMOs expect their marketing budget to increase despite recession.  
  • 70% of North American CMOs think their organization is ahead of most in manifesting DEI principles in its brand platform. However, only 23% of consumers feel most brands reflect these principles. 
  • 76% of CMOs – compared to 52% of U.S. consumers - consider virtual goods more or equally as valuable as physical goods. 

New York, NY-- November 29, 2022 – Today dentsu released Wave II of its CMO Navigator – a survey of 600+ North American CMOs and 1,000 U.S. consumers. The report examines marketers’ perceptions of the economic climate and ‘recession readiness,’ DEI priorities and challenges, and strategies for capitalizing on the Web 3.0 future. The report uncovers a new breed of CMOs – the Perceptive CMOs – who are more successful than their peers by calibrating their strategies at the intersection of where consumer wants and business needs overlap.  

Notable findings from the report include: 

CMOs Prioritizing Investment Despite Economic Recession 
While more than half (54%) CMOs believe there is a recession, an overwhelming majority (96%) feel their organizations are prepared to face it. Most CMOs say the current economic environment has impacted their organizations less than other crises in the last two years, fueling a sense of preparedness (see figure below).

CMOs’ continued optimism is bolstered by the fact that their marketing budgets are expected to increase and upward momentum in revenues. Almost 8 in 10 North American CMOs expect their budget to increase, and almost 73% of CMOs now report experiencing revenue increases in the previous 12 months, compared to 68% in Wave I of our report. CMOs with increasing budgets seem not only more growth-focused, but also more innovation-focused. 47% of CMOs are focused on new market expansion, 50% on new product development and 52% on diversifying revenue streams.  

"At dentsu, we aim to help marketers prepare their brands for what’s next. Two years ago, we stood up the monthly Dentsu Consumer Navigator series to track shifting consumer sentiment, attitudes and behaviors through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. We now want to do the same for CMOs and get their point of view on what is happening in the market, how they expect the business, consumer and technology landscapes to shift, and what they are doing to prepare for the changes ahead,” said Dirk Herbert, Chief Strategy Officer, dentsu Americas. “Dentsu CMO Navigator is a valuable resource for marketing leaders to explore the outlook of their peers, the strategies for success that CMOs are deploying, and how closely CMO priorities and attitudes are tracking with consumer sentiment (or not).” 
Disconnects on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Our report finds that marketers overestimate how much advertising reflects Americans today. CMOs (70%) are significantly more likely than consumers (49%) to believe that their own race/ethnicity is sufficiently represented in advertising today.  

Furthermore, most CMOs also believe the companies that they work for are ahead of other companies in reflecting DEI principles in the opportunities they provide to employees, namely employee promotions (44%), hiring and recruitment practices (43%) and employee learning and development (41%). More than half of CMOs (52%) report allocating between 5% and 20% of their budget to supporting diverse-owned businesses within the media production and talent ecosystem last year. 

While most CMOs believe their organization is ahead of others in adopting DEI principles, consumers were far less optimistic in their assessment of brands (see figure below). 

“From accurate storytelling and inclusive casting to taking a stance on the issues that matter most, consumers are rightfully demanding more from brands,” said Christena Pyle, Chief Equity Officer, dentsu Americas. “Inclusive marketing is a business advantage that is positioning brands for the now, the next, and the future. We see enormous growth opportunities in untapped market segments and through our DEI programs, diverse talent and ecosystem of creative and media partners, we want to make it easier for marketers to build purpose-driven brands that connect culturally while fueling business growth.” 

Web 3.0 Readiness 

In Wave I of this report, CMOs cited that Web 3.0 technologies and interactive customer experiences as high-priority investments (see figure below). Consistent with these findings, almost 7 in 10 CMOs surveyed in Wave II say that their brands accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment with online marketplaces (53%) and apps (32%) being the most popular environments.  

Furthermore, CMOs’ enthusiasm for Web 3.0 technologies is confirmed by the fact that they are more likely to consider virtual goods to be equally or more valuable than physical goods (76%) as compared to consumers (52%). 

Read the full report>  


Dentsu CMO Navigator is a twice-a-year report that focuses on North American marketing leaders’ mindsets, challenges and strategies to better understand where they are headed. The CMO questionnaire at the heart of this study (Wave II) was administered through B2B International to 600+ marketing leaders in the United States and Canada between August and September 2022. This report also leverages consumer insights from a nationally representative panel of 1,000+ U.S. respondents through Toluna between February and October 2022.  

About dentsu

Part of dentsu group, dentsu is a network designed for what’s next, helping clients predict and plan for disruptive future opportunities and create new paths to growth in the sustainable economy. Dentsu delivers people-focused solutions and services to drive better business and societal outcomes. This is delivered through five global leadership brands - Carat, Dentsu Creative, dentsu X, iProspect and Merkle, each with deep specialisms. 

Dentsu's radically collaborative team of diverse creators unifies people, clients and capabilities through horizontal creativity to help clients create culture, change society, and invent the future. Powered by 100% renewable energy, dentsu operates in over 145 markets worldwide with more than 46,000 dedicated specialists, and partners with 95 of the top 100 global advertisers.