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  • Sandhya Gulsin

The annual CMO spend survey | Part 1

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Gartner’s annual summarisation of CMO priorities has become a bellwether event for all CMO’s to truly understand how their business priorities compare to those of the wider marketing world. The 2020 edition comes in 2 parts and provides an all-round view of the key marketer challenges of 2020. The main features in this year’s report are around how marketers set their strategies and budgets to respond to the uncertainty of an economic crisis whilst maintaining a future-thinking approach that will encourage growth in 2021.

Part 1 of the Annual CMO Survey reviews company behaviours and their spend trends of 2020. Business goals affect marketing goals, which in turn affect where marketing budgets are placed. So where are CMO’s spending and how have their priorities changed?

It’s all about brand strategy

33% of CMOs cite brand strategy as their most vital strategic capability, surpassing analytics in importance. Needless to say though, analytics is still a key contributor in second place as brand metrics work hand in hand with strategy. In 2019 brand strategy was in a much lower position, so what has happened for it to now be placed at the top?

Put simply, given the changing landscape there has been a considerable need to reset brand strategy to cope with the changes in business goals. Organisations are having to adapt to support differing goals in both 2020 and beyond into 2021 when a hoped recovery will be underway. A well-set brand strategy should not be hindered or affected by an economic crisis in reality as it should look longer term than the length of time a crisis or downturn lasts, but many businesses are setting strategies for shorter periods of time and are now having to revise them quickly.

So, why brand and why now? As the old adage states: “When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise.” CMOs are resetting their approaches to either cope with the crisis or take advantage of it.

Brand health tracking is on the rise

Alongside the marketing capability of 2020, Brand health/tracker and benchmarks are ranked the most important brand metrics of 2020. This indicates that the key goals for CMOs are to protect and enhance their brand with realistic business goals and consideration of their competitor’s behaviours.

Growth will come from new products in existing markets

How will businesses change in 2021 based on the results of 2020? Another survey finding covers the strategies that CMOs predict will fuel growth in 2021. With 34% of CMOs targeting products in the existing marketing, this correlates with the previous findings of Brand Strategy being a KPI. Existing products may require new strategies alongside new products being brought to market.

Key findings from the Annual CMO Spend Survey Research Part 1 clearly distinguishes a resetting of brand strategy as the main priority of 2020 and a focus on tracking brand health is therefore a priority. Alongside this, the business goals seen are to recover, maintain or increase sales in response to the economic downturn and prepare brands to be protected from facing this again.

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