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By Nina Aghadjanian
Almost half of chief marketing officers (44 percent) are facing midyear budget cuts in 2020 as a direct result of the pandemic, shows Gartner’s “The Annual CMO Spend Survey Research: Part 1.” Fielded from March to May, the responses reflect CMOs’ optimism about business rebounding in the next year and a half, in addition to a desire to play things safe in 2021 by targeting existing markets.
After somewhat adjusting to COVID-19, CMOs are hopeful about the future—when asked about the impact of the business and economic climate over the next 18 to 24 months, 73 percent of CMOs said they expect the pandemic’s negative impacts to be short-lived. Similarly, 57 percent believe performance will return to pre-pandemic levels in the next 18 to 24 months.
Those who expressed some signs of concern about the future impact of COVID-19 include respondents in travel and hospitality (22 percent) and consumer product brands (34 percent).
Despite their rosy outlook, CMOs acknowledge the pandemic’s effects on their marketing budgets. For example, 44 percent of CMOs are prepared for a moderate cut of up to five percent or a larger cut of more than 15 percent.
Among some of the adverse actions, CMOs have taken in response to COVID-19 are canceling or postponing customer-facing marketing events (44 percent), delaying a campaign launch (41 percent) and reducing permanent, temporary and contractor headcount (37 percent).
Other ways CMOs responded to the pandemic include launching special COVID-19 communications to customers (61 percent), adding listening tools to monitor COVID-19 customer sentiment (47 percent) and promoting e-commerce offerings (40 percent).
Over the last few months, CMOs have come to value brand strategy more. In fact, 33 percent of respondents cited brand strategy as their most vital strategic capability, overtaking analytics at 29 percent. Whereas last year, brand strategy was at the bottom of the list.
Looking ahead, 79 percent of CMOs are focused on their existing markets to fuel growth, particularly by introducing new products (45 percent) and increasing sales of existing products (34 percent).
Gartner’s findings are based on an online survey conducted among 432 respondents in the US, Canada, France, Germany and the UK.
This article first appeared on a.list