The Evolving Role of the CMO

Is the CMO redundant?

In 2017, Coca-Cola retired its ‘Chief Marketing Officer’ (CMO) role in favour of a ‘Chief Growth Officer’ (CGO) with a broadened scope of leading the company’s global marketing, corporate strategy, and customer & commercial leadership teams.

Hyatt Hotels also made a similar move in 2018, merging Customer Engagement with Marketing under a new ‘Chief Commercial Officer’ position.

What does the future hold for this role and why is it constantly changing? As we observe more brands redefining the remit of the traditional CMO role, 2 main trends have stood out.

Once the leader responsible for branding and communications, today’s CMO has vast and complex responsibilities reaching far beyond that of traditional marketing.

With the rise of disruptive technology, data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the ability to drive, measure and attribute growth accurately now falls within the Marketing function.

To support this notion, a study1 by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) commissioned by Google in 2019 demonstrated that campaign performance can be improved by an average of 35% when there is a mix of tech and human input. CMOs serve as organisational enablers towards reaching a state of Digital Marketing Maturity, and organisations may enjoy revenue increases of up to 20% by doing so.

In short, decisions that were once made purely on a subjective basis have gone the way of the dinosaur, and the CMOs of today are expected to be data-driven growth-drivers.

CMOs are being tasked with ensuring that every touchpoint becomes an opportunity to delight the customer.

A 2019 Forrester report2 outlined how CMOs are expected to establish a span of control that ensures consistent delivery of the brand promise at every touchpoint or otherwise risk feeling the brunt of customer dissatisfaction in the face of fragmented experiences.

Approaches such as the See-Think-Do-Care framework (covered in Module 2 of Squared Online) helps marketers with the task of plotting every step of the customer journey pre-and-post purchase (in what Google calls micro-moments).

Owning the processes involved in each of these steps is a natural evolution of the Marketing function and 90% of CMOs believe they will be responsible for the whole customer experience by the end of 2020.

Our take? The CMO role is not redundant. In fact, it has become more important than ever.

And the 2 trends listed above are also why Digital Marketing roles have grown4 3-fold over the last 5 years.

Consumer goods behemoth, Unilever, recently closed its year-long search5 for a new CMO by creating a new role called the “Chief Digital and Marketing Officer”, in an effort to become a “future-fit, fully digitised organisation”. The role has since been described by its Chief Executive as “CMO++”.

And in a surprise move, Coca Cola has brought back its global CMO role6 as of 1st January this year— with an expanded remit overseeing marketing and operations, citing the need “for the company to be agile in how it responds and adapts”.

Senior marketers hoping to become the CMOs of tomorrow would do well to keep up with these trends if they wish to bag Marketing’s top title.

And that’s where Squared Online comes in.

Our ethos is to empower the next generation of digital changemakers across the world.

With 5 modules spread across 5 months, graduates of this course would be equipped with cutting-edge digital marketing knowledge and the ability to evaluate the changing digital landscape and respond to disruption.

At the end of the course, graduates will be able to:

  • Analyse disruptive changes in technology and consumer behaviour
  • Apply customer journey frameworks to map customer needs and the moments that matter
  • Examine how an organisation’s culture affects the adoption of digital first and customer-centric strategies
  • Recommend ways to enhance digital-first and customer-centric behaviours and marketing strategies that will future-proof the organisation


Want to hear more about how Squared Online could impact your career?

You can contact us at the following: | +65 6876 7908


1 BCG 2019 Report: Digital Marketing Maturity

2 Forrester 2019 Report: CMO Predictions

3 Martech Series Report: The Evolving Role of the CMO – Digital Tools and Data-Driven Decisions

4 Straits Times Article: 5 fastest growing jobs

5 Adweek article: Unilever Creates New Chief Digital and Marketing Officer Role

6 Digital Marketing Institute Blog Post: The evolution of the CMO

Radzif Nasri

Posted July 4, 2020