The role of Chief Marketing Officer is tough. This person is responsible for facilitating brand growth, sales, and marketing strategy of local, national, or global companies. They’re under constant pressure to generative revenue, reduce costs, and avoid risk. The job is so tough that SpencerStuart found their average tenure is just 41 months, not quite 3.5 years.

So what do CMOs need to be successful in the future?


Marketing Technology

Successful CMOs need to be aware of and understand how marketing technology works. This doesn’t mean marketers need to be programmers and developers. It means they need to know what types of technology exist and how their companies can benefit from those technologies. What kinds of tools will help them better connect and engage with consumers and customers? What kinds of tools can be used to plan, execute, and measure their marketing campaigns? How could AI, big data, augmented reality, chatbots, voice, blockchain, wearables, or a host of other existing and emerging technologies help them meet their marketing goals? For example, Michael Medline, the President and CEO of Empire Company Ltd, understood the need to fast-forward their investment in eCommerce technologies as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Data is undeniably valuable

Data gathered from surveys, focus groups, interviews, biometrics, and digital activities tells marketers who likes what, why they like it, and how, where, and when they like it. When this data is extremely detailed, it can guide the development of new and better products to meet the needs of tightly targeted segments of the population. It can tell us why some products fail and why others are astonishing successes. It can even facilitate targeting and personalizing communications while the purchase decision journey is taking place. Successful CMOs realize that most companies have extraordinary volumes of data just waiting to be actioned. And they act on that data.

Ensure the consumer is at the centre

It’s no longer sufficient to identify research problems and conduct research projects. CMOs of the future need to frame up complex, strategic questions that can only be answered by putting consumers at the center. Long-term success comes from building annual learning agendas that are focused against key decisions and building a culture of return on research investment. 

Lonelier than ever

Even during times of extreme stress, CMOs need to project confidence, expertise, and emotional strength to colleagues at all levels of the company. Feeling unable to confide in or get support from colleagues can lead to loneliness, and even mental health issues. Successful CMOs must have a solid set of resources and tools in place to help them support their own mental health, and be mental health mentors for others.

Increased commercial responsibility

Not only are CMOs responsible for marketing strategy and futureproofing brands, they are also being tasked with user experience, customer experience, merger & acquisition planning, growth, and innovation. Successful CMOs recognize that their role is ever expanding and expectations about their expertise are also expanding. Meghan Nameth, SVP, Hudson’s Bay, has accepted the innovation challenge by reaching consumers in the wildly popular Animal Crossing game.

Role of ‘brand’ under attack

Technology is changing how consumers use, understand, and learn about brands. The convenience of telling voice assistants to “buy more detergent” or clicking on “Repeat Last Order” in the grocery store app is decreasing the power of brands and making companies like Amazon and Alexa more powerful. Consumers are slowly becoming less likely to see a brand name on the shelf and more likely to order what they’ve always ordered. Successful CMOs must ensure that their brands stand for something meaningful and relevant so that consumers will seek them out.


As globalization increases accessibility to new markets, successful CMOs will broaden their focus beyond their own borders. Local brands need to worry about competitors on the other side of the planet. Global brands need to worry about competitors that are so small, they’re still building products in their garage. The cost and speed of marketing and shipping products around the world has declined such that a potential competitor can be anywhere.

Where do we go from here?

Ten years ago, we spoke of Bionic Marketers needing to meet a slew of challenges and today’s CMOs must continue to meet a slew of challenges. But, by choosing collaborative partners and experts who understand the complexity of the role, they can improve their odds of success. If you’re ready to meet the challenge, please get in touch with us.


 Ready to learn more? Download our Triple C™ framework for a template that will help you develop strategies and tactics that are beneficial for the consumer, the customer and the company. Or, learn how we helped Maple Leaf position competing brands in order to revitalize both brands and launch successful product lines.