Forrester: CMOs face 'final desperate fight for survival' in 2020

CMOs: companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg have axed position
CMOs: companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg have axed position

CMOs need to take control of the entire customer journey, consultancy suggests.

Following a year in which dozens of high-profile brands have eliminated chief marketing officer positions, Forrester is predicting 2020 will bring a "desperate fight for survival" for the CMO, with those who remain expected to take on an ever-widening remit.

The CMO role has transformed from a "long-term brand-building growth captain to a quarter-disciplined and data-focused operator" over the past two decades, the research consultancy said, and it is a "painful transition" that has caused some of the top global brands to shed the title this year. This includes Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, McDonald’s, Netflix and Walmart.

In its Predictions 2020 report, Forrester said the remaining CMOs must now demonstrate their value as generators of customer outcomes. Forrester is not foretelling an end to the role, but said 2020 will mark the beginning of the "final desperate fight".

"Those who succeed will do so by being accountable for it all – the brand, communications, sales enablement, CX and technology selection – while influencing the employee experience and driving the innovation and change that customer obsession requires," the company said.

While it has suggested that the CMO of the future will become responsible for all that surrounds the customer – including innovation, marketing, operations, media and sales – Forrester expects fewer than 10% of those with the CMO title to elevate to this.

The CMO will also "become crucial to employee loyalty and acquiring top talent", Forrester predicted, by delivering on the brand’s beliefs in much the same way they do to drive customer acquisition and retention.

CMOs can future-proof themselves by investing in participatory purpose-led customer experiences, such as those that reward brand loyalty with some form of "giving back", the company noted. It named as examples Apple’s initiative to encourage its Watch users to contribute their data to health research and Nike’s children's trainers subscription.

Moreover, Forrester suggested that CMOs will have to consider much more strategic investment in technology to prevent "overzealous upgrades" that have no strategy behind them.

A version of this story first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific

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