New marketing in retail: How CMOs drive growth

Retail rock stars: CMOs driving growth

Retail growth has been an endgame for some time within the industry, but now it’s no longer enough. Simply growing in existing categories and businesses won’t suffice, as niche startups eat into established players’ profits.

More than 90 percent of retail CEOs and CMOs say that disruptive growth is the name of the game—acknowledging it will contribute “a great deal” to overall growth over the next two years. But acknowledgement does not mean they know how to make it happen, or how to infuse the brand purpose so important to consumers into that growth.

What are growth leaders doing differently?

An elite few are ahead of the pack, spurring disruptive growth for their companies. These are the CMOs who straddle two parallel universes—their traditional responsibilities and the activities that will spur new growth. They are outpacing their peers, who say they spend less than half their time (41 percent) on disruptive growth.

That’s not surprising, because retail CMOs told us they feel confident about traditional skills like marketing operations but far less so about what disruptive growth requires.

17% Fewer CMOs feel they have good control of both traditional and disruptive growth levers than just two years ago

61% of retail CMOs are not ready to embrace Artificial Intelligence

56% of retail CMOs feel they are above average in attracting and retaining the right talent

"Retail CMOs feel confident about traditional skills like marketing operations but far less so about what disruptive growth requires."

New growth, new habits

The better retail CMOs can master new activities that fuel disruptive growth, the faster they will incorporate those into the delicate balance of traditional and new. Concentrating on a few areas can help speed the journey, helping them very deliberately shift to the New:

Manage the shift from traditional to New

Spending time on disruptive growth, rather than focused on traditional marketing requires shifting talent and resources to the New now, while balancing current core marketing operations.

One view of the customer, one version of the truth

Data and analytics can provide a consistent, dynamic, shared view of customers. The CMO should own, live and breathe data from each customer touchpoint to drive insight and change the business.

Acknowledge not all customers are equally valuable

The most valuable customers should drive the strategy of the CMO and the business. The CMO must lead the shift in operating model, enabling the company to interact with individual customers.

Own the customer experience

Many CMOs remain influencers of the customer experience rather than owners. As custodian of customer data and insight, the retail CMO needs to work across corporate boundaries toward the right outcomes.

Reinvent the talent model

CMOs in the New are hiring for tomorrow’s needs today, automating repetitive tasks to free people to focus on more creative pursuits and investing in critical data-science skills, despite the price tag.


Andrew Carlisle


Nevine El-Warraky


​Michael Swartz​


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