MIAMI BEACH, FL: Marketers are increasingly focused on the customer journey but often struggle to understand how consumers make decisions, according to evidence gathered by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

Bob Liodice, the organisation's president/chief executive, discussed this subject at the 2015 Masters of Marketing conference held in Miami Beach, Florida.

"Marketers are increasingly focused on the customer and, specifically, the customer journey," he said. (For more, including further insights, read Warc's exclusive report: The new habits of successful 2015 marketers.)

"Only 13% of the companies firmly believe they understand the decision journeys of their customers. Nearly half cannot measure the critical stages of that journey."

These figures came from a survey of 384 client-side marketers conducted by the ANA in partnership with consultancy McKinsey and research firm GfK.

Given the relentless rate of change, the need to track constantly evolving shopper behaviour has grown more acute for brands.

"For much of the past ten years, business and marketing have been forced to play a game of catch-up," Liodice reported.

"Each new wave of technological innovation triggered new customer behaviors and expectations. This challenged marketers to scramble and figure out how to be relevant."

As further evidence, while 83% of marketers believe the ability to use data as a guide when making decisions is important, only 10% thought they effectively fed insights back into their organisation to improve performance.

"Processes for capturing insights and feeding them back into marketing programs now generate improved performance and competitive advantage," said Liodice.

Changing the structure – and culture – of the marketing organisation to create new roles that will enhance a customer-centric focus could help more brands achieve this status.

"Marketers recognise that agile leadership is becoming a prerequisite for success. They watch their competitors' speed and agility and impressively invest to respond to such challenges," said Liodice.

Data sourced from Warc