Will retail and brand CMOs play it safe in 2021?
Seventy-three percent of chief marketing officers (CMOs) will rely on existing customers to fuel growth in 2021 rather than look to develop new markets, according to a survey from Gartner.
The inaugural Gartner “CMO Strategic Priorities Survey 2021” showed 39 percent of CMOs planning to increase sales of existing products to existing customers vs. 34 percent who expect to introduce new products to existing customers in 2021.
The cautious attitude reflects ongoing uncertainty, but Gartner noted that the findings are at odds with the desire of CMOs to reinvent and rescale key strategies developed over the course of last year.
The survey of 381 marketers from September through October explored whether 11 marketing strategies would be either reinvented, rescaled, reduced, retired or returned to pre-pandemic levels. The strategies were:
- Traditional physical sales practice;
- Delivery or “buy online pick up in store” fulfillment;
- Customer loyalty and retention programs;
- Physical conferences and events;
- Customer/user experience research;
- Virtual sales practices;
- Health and safety programs;
- Direct-to-customer sales;
- Voice-of-the-customer programs;
- Sales via traditional retail channels;
- Virtual conferences and events.
Half of the respondents reported they intend to rescale or reinvent six of the 11 key strategies. Nearly one-third (31.8 percent) plan to rescale or reinvent eight of the 11.
“CMOs cannot reinvent and rescale everything while still executing effectively and remaining agile in a year that promises more challenges,” said Augie Ray, VP in the Gartner Marketing practice, in a statement. “Those who attempt to reinvent too much simultaneously risk failing to do any one thing right while overburdening their teams.”
A Digiday article from early January similarly found marketers likely to remain cautious and flexible in 2021, planning to put a greater focus on measurement and attribution to better ascertain ROI.
On the more bullish side, Mark Read, CEO of WPP, the the British multinational advertising agency, expects advertising expenditures to recover, climbing 12.3 percent in 2021 as marketers look to capitalize on increasing consumer confidence as vaccines are deployed. Mr. Read told The Wall Street Journal, “Of course, with the rapid shift to digital media and e-commerce, the main beneficiaries will be the big digital platforms.”
- Gartner Survey Shows 73 percent of CMOs Will Fall Back on Low Risk, Low Return Strategies for 2021 – Gartner
- ‘Focus on flexibility will continue in 2021’: Heading into the New Year, advertisers remain cautious – Digiday
- As 2020 Limps to an End, Ad Executives Look Warily to 2021 – The Wall Street Journal
- New CMO Council Report: Global Marketing Leaders Looking for Growth and Recovery in 2021 – CMO Council/Hospitality.net
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think the emphasis on marketing to existing customers rather than acquiring new ones is a deviation from past practices? What changes for the better or worse have you seen in the marketing approaches of retailers and consumer brands since the pandemic hit, and will those continue in 2021?