Gartner: Uncertainty clouds CMO prospects for 2023


Dive Brief:

  • Marketing chiefs will face serious challenges to growing brand value and loyalty next year amid an economic rough patch and changing digital habits, according to predictions from researcher Gartner.
  • The firm identified three major trends: shifting customer behaviors increasing uncertainty; cross-functional collaboration creating worse outcomes for marketers; and disruptive market dynamics weakening mainstay tactics for winning consumer favor.   
  • CMOs may need to make less money go further and fight for their independence in light of these headwinds and as larger corporate mandates focus on preserving growth. 

Dive Insight:

Marketers have had a rough go of it in 2022, and Gartner’s CMO predictions for next year don’t herald happier times. One of the biggest factors pressuring the role remains the economy. While some of the inflationary pinch has eased in recent months, fears a recession will hit next year endure. Marketing departments are often among the first targeted for cutbacks in a downturn. 

Consumers, too, are tightening their belts. Gartner research from September showed that 30% of surveyed respondents are trading down for store-name brands. Retailers are investing more in promoting their private labels to capture this interest, amplifying the competition.  

Meanwhile, almost one-fifth of people have ditched in-person shopping for e-commerce, per Gartner. This online migration is occurring at a time when effectively deploying and measuring digital campaigns is harder due to the deprecation of third-party cookies and important identifiers on iOS and Android. 

Gartner expects the “majority of consumers and [business-to-business] buyers” will withhold data that’s crucial to digital marketing moving forward. Categories like packaged goods have relied more on retail media to address the first-party data gap, but it’s proven to be a channel rife with its own frustrations and gatekeeping

Additionally, Gartner believes traditional methods of tracking and shoring up brand value, including brand reach, brand sentiment and perceived differentiation, are at risk. Reasons for this include disruptive new market entrants, higher consumer expectations and the fact that it’s easier than ever to learn about unfamiliar brands. Three-quarters of surveyed audiences have searched for information on a brand they didn’t previously know about while browsing online, according to Gartner. Just 15% said they were loyal to a given familiar brand. 

“CMOs must redefine and quickly demonstrate the value of brand investments in a volatile environment,” said Ewan McIntyre, chief of research at Gartner’s marketing practice, in a statement attached to the research. “The strongest driver of brand commitment is a single meaningful brand experience, even with unfamiliar brands.”

At the organizational level, CMOs must navigate tricky internal politics. For years, marketers have been encouraged to break down silos and collaborate more with other departments. This trend has seen traction as areas like digital commerce expand to become enterprise-wide priorities. But the benefits of a cross-functional approach could be waning for CMOs. 

Prior Gartner findings drawn from polls of senior marketers showed that those who described themselves as “independent” frequently outperformed those who viewed themselves as “collaborators.” A cross-functional focus at a company can siphon resources away from marketing departments that have struggled to return to pre-pandemic budgetary levels, Gartner found


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About Author

Peter Adams

Peter is the Associate Editor of Marketing Dive. A graduate from the Medill School at Northwestern University, he studied magazine journalism and English literature, and previously has worked at publications like New York magazine and the investigative initiative The Medill Justice Project. Passionate about movies, especially if they're trash.

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