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Study Reveals 36% of CEO’s and CMO’s are very unaligned on the role of marketing

Groundbreaking new research on the alignment levels between CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs was unveiled at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on 20 June 2024.

The study, based on 200 face-to-face interviews with executives from India’s top brands, drawn from a variety of sectors, highlights a significant lack of alignment within the C-Suite regarding the management of Marketing Depts.

The research was commissioned by The Womb, India’s leading independent agency, and The Effectiveness Partnership (TEP). The study was sponsored by Godrej and Piramal Finance, and fieldwork was conducted by Quantum.

The results demonstrate a strong consensus about business principles but strikingly different opinions about Marketing practice. With CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs agreeing on the importance of Marketing as a driver of growth, but often disagreeing about the role of Marketing in their own organisations and the contribution it makes to the business.

Topline findings are outlined below, whilst further detailed analysis to follow:

CEOs and CFOs expressed serious doubts about the value and contribution of their own Marketing Depts with:

  • 65% CEOs, and 60% CFOs, indicating they did not believe their own Marketing Dept demonstrates real commercial value for their business
  • 50% of CEOs and CFO’s do not believe that Marketing activities, in their own businesses, are linked to behaviour change

40% of CMOs also acknowledged their own struggle to demonstrate the commercial value of creative work.

The lack of alignment between Marketing and the rest of the C-Suite was particularly striking when respondents were questioned about the metrics they use when planning or evaluating Marketing activities, which has disturbing implications for how Marketing Depts are managed by Senior Leadership Teams:

  • 19% CEOs and CFOs prioritize Margin & Profitability, 0% of CMOs did so
  • 26% CEOs and CFOs prioritize Sales Revenue & Volume, versus only 3% CMOs.
  • Conversely, metrics prioritized by CMOs were ‘soft measures’ such as:
  • total awareness prioritised by 32% of CMO’s
  • spontaneous awareness prioritised by 29% of CMO’s
  • brand consideration prioritised by 26% of CMO’s
  • With social metrics,  search, and others soft measures prioritised by CMO’s over commercial measures – such as margin and profitability, and sales and revenue

An Alignment Index was calculated to summarise the extent of agreement or disagreement across a wide range of factors (such as how each respondent sees the role of and contribution made by Marketing, their interpretation of campaign effectiveness, use and reporting of data, and whether they believe their own organisation is aligned, or not, along a number of dimensions).

The Alignment Index shows:

  • 49% alignment between CFOs and CMOs, indicating a 51% unalignment (with 27% very unaligned)
  • and even lower between CEOs and CMOs, at 47%, indicating 63% unalignment (with 36% very unaligned)

The topline results from the study which were released on 20 June in a WARC Creative Impact session entitled “The Inglorious B****rds of the Boardroom” was held as part of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, conducted by Gurdeep Puri, Founding Partner, The Effectiveness Partnership, Manisha Sain, Strategy Partner, The Womb India and Kawal Shoor, Co-Founder, The Womb, India. It was introduced by Partha Sinha, President, Times of India Group.

Says Gurdeep Puri, Co-Founder of The Effectiveness Partnership “This study reveals important new findings on the level of alignment between Marketers and the C-Suite. Marketers should take heed and start prioritising the metrics that matter to the Board, whilst the Board should have more empathy with the level of complexity from Marketing and start taking personal responsibility for brand health at a board level.”