Managing Director & Sector Lead for Media, Entertainment & Digital EMEA
Why marketing matters now more than ever
Marketing is all about building bridges and connecting the gaps between customers, content, data and measurement, technology and innovation — all in the name of delivering better customer experiences. Today's high-performing marketers have greater influence over strategy development than ever, and with powerful new tools at their fingertips, they're getting the closest look yet at shifting consumer behavior.
Korn Ferry recently interviewed several of EMEA's leading marketers to discuss the evolution of marketing today — what it looks like in practice, and how future trends and opportunities will transform marketing as we know it.
Not long ago, the idea of data analytics was a new concept for marketers — and with social media still in its infancy, few saw the true impact of these phenomena on the future of business. As we all soon discovered, there was a seismic shift in power towards the consumer. With countless new channels opening up and the disruptive effect of mobile marketing becoming clear, marketers suddenly found themselves in a brave new world.
"Today, media is integrated and cross channel," said Nigya Makhmudora, Chief Growth Officer at Danone. "You need a strong understanding of data [...] you need to engage with consumers, but the way you do it is different. Therefore so too are the capabilities and role of the CMO."
The shift towards the consumer is forcing companies to evolve from being primarily product-centric to customer-centric. While this pivot is a massive change, it also provides a greater opportunity for marketing as the "voice of the customer."
"Everything starts with the customer in digital," said JJ van Oosten, Chief Customer & Digital Officer at Kingfisher. "How many are there, who are they, how do they buy, how do I reward them, what is their lifetime value, what are their pain points, and then how do I organize myself to be able to serve them?"
In the midst of such a transformative evolution for marketing and marketers everywhere, the global COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many proven marketing strategies out the window. With lockdowns fueling the digital transformation that was already taking place, companies had to adapt overnight — reinventing their customer experience and finding new ways to connect with and engage consumers online.
"Marketers have had to shift their mindset," said Laure Baume, CEO at Moet Hennessy. "Their role must move from the traditional brand or product to be focused on the design of experiences. How can we build engagement and loyalty?"
All this change and transformation has brought a new generation of marketers to the table, along with new and exciting opportunities to take initiative, channel more creative and analytical abilities, and better demonstrate marketing's contribution to an organization's profitability.
As siloed corporate structures give way to more fluid, collaborative environments, the ability to exercise influence across functions and disciplines becomes increasingly critical. While it's true that the lines are blurring, change is nothing to fear for smart marketers who remain bold and agile.
As the voice of the customer, marketers are uniquely positioned at the intersection between innovation, sales, supply chain, manufacturing and finance — and today's new generation of marketers is integrated squarely at the center of any successful organization.
A rigorous focus on strategy and analytics can help today's marketers position themselves at the heart of business planning — and influence the profitability of the entire organization. It's all about developing an agenda that aligns well with the company's vision.
"The CMO should be fueling the conversations in the boardroom about where the world is moving to and what the consumer needs," said Bas Smit, Chief Marketing Officer at Barry Callebaut.
But for today's marketers, this analytical ability can't exist purely on its own. Creativity is still valuable — and the analytical and creative must work in tandem. That means building every marketing campaign or initiative on solid customer insights.
"Brilliant marketing needs to include both aspects," said Cristina Diezhandino, Chief Marketing Officer at Diageo. "The precision part is [...] getting more sophisticated. And that can feed the creativity engine."
The recent focus on customer-centric marketing has given rise to a new role in many organizations: the Chief Customer Officer (CCO). With traditional marketing giving way to more digital and performance marketing specializations, the CCO role is an evolution of many responsibilities previously reserved for CMOs.
"I see my role as finding a way to create a consistent plan and experience for the brand across channels," said Matt Atkinson, former Chief Customer Officer at Co-op.
Marketing has become more targeted, measurable and effective than ever before. That's why keeping the customer in focus has never been more critical for marketers.
"The choice of roles a given company has on its leadership team reflects the step-change the organization is looking to go through," said Laura Harricks, Chief Customer Officer at Ocado Retail, Ltd. "To a large extent, a company's job titles should reflect its strategy."
With so much happening so quickly, it's an exciting time to be in marketing — as long as you're willing to embrace constant change. As organizations increasingly orient themselves around their customers, the most successful CMOs and CCOs are discovering new opportunities to move up — even becoming CEOs themselves.
As the evolution of marketing continues, it pays to be bold and curious. By building a broad skill set in data, strategy, commercial and creative aspects of business, today's marketers can disrupt the status quo, challenge conventions and lean into a new understanding of what customers want and need.
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