NEW YORK: Most brand owners are interested in improving their localised marketing capabilities but have found it difficult to develop the necessary strategies and metrics, a study has revealed.

The CMO Council, the trade body, surveyed 300 executives worldwide, and discovered 86% were seeking to better modify, adapt and target their output to suit smaller, pre-identified audiences.

Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council, said: "Today's market requires brands to move to digital platforms that allow them to customise messages or images, improve brand governance and deliver multi-lingual, multi-cultural campaign executions."

Among the perceived benefits linked to attaining this goal were boosting relevancy and response rates on 67%, stronger connections and conversations with consumers on 39%, increased loyalty on 29% and brand differentiation on 27%.

Some 49% of contributors also believed improving their competencies in this area could drive growth and profitability, largely thanks to generating demand and achieving sell-through.

Only 52% of the panel were satisfied with their leadership, innovation and effectiveness and nearly 50% were "underperforming or needed new strategies", against just 12% agreeing they had "highly evolved" capabilities.

This was despite the fact 23% of the sample allocated more than half of marketing and merchandising budgets to local initiatives, and 41% invested between 20% and 50% of expenditure.

Demographics were used for targeting by 45% of participants, beating location on 44%, socioeconomic data on 28%, psychographics on 27%, culture on 22% and similar buying behaviour and language, both on 19%.

Cable and broadcast television, local magazines and radio reportedly yielded the lowest return on investment, with events, direct mail, inserts, specialist websites and social networks some of the best-performing channels.

However, a modest of firms 36% boast formalised processes and systems to assess the impact of national brand advertising at the granular level, while 61% either do not measure it or use "ad hoc" tools.

For those organisations monitoring the payback from national advertising in such a way, 45% track offers and deals, 41% quantify awareness and recognition and 37% look to lead and prospect flow.

Another 37% use website analytics, 31% field and channel feedback, 30% scrutinise the origins of enquiries and calls, and 28% use share of market statistics.

The primary obstacles identified by interviewees included understanding local dynamics and market variables on 30%, determining the correct spending model on 24% and evaluating payback on 23%.

Data sourced from CMO Council; additional content by Warc staff