NEW YORK: Brand owners should emphasise analytics, innovation and rigorously measuring communications effectiveness to find the "sweet spots" that will drive future growth.
Accenture, the consultancy, surveyed 400 senior executives representing firms with annual revenues of $1bn (€782m; £641m), and over 60% of the panel said they believed marketing models will be revolutionised in the next five years.
In terms of current priorities, 79% of participants - drawn from countries including the China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the UK and US - were seeking to improve customer retention.
Meanwhile, 78% were aiming to attract new buyers and 75% stated a preference for boosting sales among their existing clientele.
Innovation was mentioned by 71%, with consistent internal collaboration and responding to emerging rivals both on 67%.
Tracking return on investment was cited by 63%, a total that fell to 59% for adopting novel pricing structures and 56% for making better use of digital media.
One primary trend was the transition from "doing the same with less" to "doing more with the same", as marketers attempt to heighten efficiency rather than cutting overheads.
In all, 52% of the sample anticipated that expenditure levels would be flat this year and 26% thought resources would decline, reflecting the difficult macroeconomic conditions.
"While the preceding 12 to 18 months were all about conserving cash and reducing costs to survive the downturn, marketing executives now see their key charge as ‘profitable growth," the study said.
"However, in their pursuit of their growth and efficiency goals, companies will be challenged by major changes in their customer bases."
More specifically, 72% of contributors suggested consumers now expect greater value for money and 69% viewed them as increasingly price-sensitive.
Equally, 71% said shoppers were demanding higher quality, as did 68% for customer service and 66% when it came to "respecting their time", with these habits set to be of long-term significance.
Other difficult shifts included fulfilling a popular desire for goods boasting unique features on 60%, covering multiple geographies on 59%, the same total as serving "better informed and more self-directed" consumers.
A further 43% believed they were not sufficiently leveraging online communities, while 30% said the same concerning direct mail and online ads, and 29% for traditional media.
Some 17% assumed this position for encouraging recommendation, but 37% argued they were "very effective" in this area, well above the norm across all channels, where figures typically plummeted to less than 25%.
Improved analytics was named as a vital component of future expansion by 65%, with successful R&D and achieving strong engagement on 64%, and streamlined marketing operations on 57%.
In an effort to meet such corporate objectives, 46% of firms were in the midst of transforming the structure and strategic outlook of their marketing functions.
Based on its analysis of the sector, Accenture identified four competencies that companies which managed to increase revenues last year focused on.
Firstly, 47% of these businesses had invested in proving ROI, compared with just 32% that posted a contraction in sales.
Similarly, 68% of organisations in the former group recorded an "above-average performance" in the field of analytics, sliding to 58% among those in the latter.
These figures stood at 64% and 52% in turn for delivering category-leading innovation, while 41% of growing companies had employed effective digital ads, falling to 25% for their faltering counterparts.
Data sourced from Accenture; additional content by Warc staff