Research Outline

CMO Strategical Thinking Research


To have a broad understanding of what chief marketing officers (CMOs) in the United States should be thinking and strategically planning for the rest of 2020 and moving into 2021. An ideal response would take into consideration the topics that would likely be considered if a summit (conference) was allowed to be held now, what would be the important things on the agenda. This could surround, but not be limited to, key topics, issues, and innovations.

Early Findings

  • Marketing budget allocation is a topic that all CMOs are focused on for the rest of 2020 and moving into 2021. According to Gartner’s 2020-2021 CMO Spend Survey, 78% of CMOs expect digital advertising business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing budgets to increase in 2021. To drill down further into channels, among CMOs, 78% expect budgets to rise for social in 2021, 71% for mobile, 71% for websites, 69% for SEO, 65% for partner and affiliate marketing, 64% for paid search, 63% for email marketing, 58% for offline advertising, and 57% for event marketing. A free download is required to view the statistics. ***Please note that the spending survey is presented in two parts. Part 1 looks at how CMOs plan to maintain and grow revenue into 2021. Part 2 focuses spending priorities and indicates optimism for 2021, despite numerous challenges.***
  • In that same report, CMOs said they want to protect their investments in technology and people. 37% of respondents said they reduced permanent contract or employee head counts, said Ewan McIntyre, VP analyst covering marketing leadership and management at Gartner. "CMOs will need to look toward people to drive efficiencies."
  • "CMOs continue to pursue relatively conservative strategies that look at how they can fuel growth, with 79% primarily relying on existing markets. Their views are in contrast to other C-suite executives."
  • "About 45% said they will fuel growth through the introduction of new products to existing markets, while 34% look to drive growth by increasing the sales of existing products to existing customers."
  • When asked how they will approach new product development, 36% said they will do this through strategic partnerships, while some 32% cited creating products that are better suited for customer needs and 32% said it will be done through research and development (R&D) investments.
  • Brand strategy has become one of the top of marketing capabilities, rising from its position near the bottom of the list in 2019. About one-third of CMOs now place it in their top three.
  • "According to the most recent results of research done by Deloitte, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association, the highest percentage of marketers surveyed expect customers to focus more on “trusting relationships” with brands and companies than on low price, despite the economic downturn. 79% of CMOs believe customers are paying closer attention to the social activism, outreach and investments of companies during than pandemic, and will reward brands that represent their values with greater loyalty in the long run."
  • "The COVID-19 crisis caught everyone by surprise, including marketers. The economic havoc has already resulted in a 9% reduction in marketing jobs with more likely to follow, suggesting departments will have to do more with less. The pandemic also drove home the importance of agility and resilience in the face of unforeseen events. Most marketers in the survey considered themselves and their organizations unprepared for the events that transpired, and expect to invest more in training to develop improvisational (pivoting) skills, creative thinking, innovation and managing uncertainty within their workforce."

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our initial hour of research was spent ensuring that the research questions could be answered by publicly available sources and also providing some relevant and salient data points to set the table for future research.
  • We were not told whether to focus on CMOs at B2C companies or B2B companies, so we took a broad approach and provided information regardless of the focus of the company. If we should just be focused on one type, then that should be clearly communicated to us in any reply.
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.