social media in business
0845 901 1685

IBM CMO Study: Understand Individuals Not Just Markets

Chris Hambly's picture
Submitted by Chris Hambly on 26 October 2011 - 2:56pm

IBM have conducted a Chief Marketing Officier (CMO) study where 1,734 CMOs spanning 19 industries and 64 countries were interviewed face-to-face in order to understand where they stand on some key challenges facing them and their companies today. The report is getting pushed out by Ogilivy Pr and by the look of Google they are distributing quite well.

With surveys I'm always half skeptical as indeed surveys theyselves are prone to enormous errors depending on the framing and various other variables. That said, the outcomes of this report do seem to concur with my own experience of crossing paths with CMOs, and their concerns, or lack of knowledge.

Even though I am the messenger here, I do feel this report does present some interesting data in order to formulate some further questioning, particularly with you the reader.

CMO Study

So here are the key findings summaried with a smattering of quotes:


“Customers today have more control and influence with the brand than ever. We need to make sure it’s give and take—a two-sided conversation, with both parties having responsibilities in the interaction.” Ann Glover,  Chief Marketing Officer, ING Insurance U.S
  • No matter where they work, their industry, or how large or successful their organizations are, CMOs are facing many of  the same challenges and most feel underprepared to manage them.
  • CMOs see four of these challenges as pervasive, universal game-changers: the data explosion, social media, proliferation of channels and devices, and shifting consumer demographics.
  • most CMOs are struggling in one vital respect — providing the numbers that demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) for marketing.
  • The most proactive CMOs are responding to these challenges by trying to understand individuals as well as markets.
  • They are focusing on relationships, not just transactions. Outperformers are also committed to developing a clear “corporate character".
  • The vast majority of CMOs believe there are three key areas for improvement. - deliver value to empowered customers; create lasting relationships with those customers; and measure marketing’s contribution to the business in relevant, quantifiable terms.


“We have to get scientific about the customer experience.” Nick Barton,  Vice President Sales & Marketing, Greater China, InterContinental Hotel Group
  • At least 80 percent of CMOs rely on traditional sources of information, such as market research and competitive benchmarking, to make strategic decisions.
  • Though these sources only show customers in aggregate, offering little insight into what individual customers need or desire. By contrast, relatively few CMOs are exploiting the full power of the digital grapevine.
  • While 75 percent of CMOs use customer analytics to mine data, only 26 percent are tracking blogs, only 42 percent are tracking third-party reviews and only 48 percent are tracking consumer reviews.
  • CMOs are also overwhelmingly underprepared to take charge of the growing volume, velocity and variety of data.
  • More than two-thirds believe they will need to invest in new tools and technologies and develop new strategies for managing big data.
  • Four-fifths of respondents plan to use customer analytics, customer relationship management (CRM), social media and mobile applications more extensively over the next three to five years.


“We have to increase customer loyalty. The digital technologies represent an important channel with which to interact with clients and attract them to our service.” Jeannette Schmitteckert,  Head of Marketing and Public Relations, Bardusch GmbH & Co. KG
  • CMOs are intensely aware. Hence, their top priority is to enhance customer loyalty and encourage satisfied customers to advocate their brands.
  • More than half of all CMOs think social media is a key channel for engaging with customers. However, engaging with customers is not just about communicating with them. It’s also about helping them enjoy the products and services they’ve bought, with the intention of building customer loyalty.
  • Most CMOs, though, report using data primarily to segment and sell, not to generate awareness or stimulate interest.
  • Seventy-five percent of CMOs believe marketing must manage brand reputation within and beyond the enterprise.
  • CMOs today are under increasing pressure to provide quantifiable evidence of how their marketing expenditure is helping the organization achieve its goals. 
  • They also have to hire people with the right mix of financial, technical and digital skills and become savvier in such areas themselves.
  • 63 percent of respondents believe marketing return on investment (ROI) will become the most important measure of success over the next three to five years. Importantly, though, only 44 percent of respondents feel sufficiently prepared to manage the increasing importance of ROI. 
  • If CMOs are to be held responsible for the marketing returns they deliver, they must also have significant influence over all four Ps of marketing: promotion, products, place and price.


The report argues three key areas will be of fundamental importance for the CMO of the future:
  1. Delivering value to empower customers
  2. Foster lasting connections
  3. Capture value, measure results


So an interesting set of bullet points. Perhaps you've experienced the very same thing with your brand, perhaps you have thoughts about taking this conversation further? - at the very least why not share it?