Almost three-quarters (73%) of chief marketing officers in North America, the UK, France and Germany intend to play it safe by relying on existing customers to fuel growth in 2021, according to a new survey from research firm Gartner.

Its inaugural CMO Strategic Priorities Survey 2021, which is based on responses from 381 CMOs in September and October 2020, suggests they will take a low risk approach this year following a tumultuous 2020 even though many would like to rescale their marketing strategies.

Key findings

  • When asked “what is your company’s primary strategy to fuel growth in 2021?”, 39% of CMOs said they plan to increase sales of existing products to existing customers, while 34% intend to introduce new products to existing customers.
  • Just 18% said they would enter a new market using existing products, while 7% said they would enter a new market by introducing new products. Zero sales growth was anticipated by 1% of CMOs.

Recommendations for 2021

  • Gartner advised CMOs to be more selective in what strategies they choose to reinvent, rescale, reduce or retire, and to focus their efforts on what is most essential in the short-term.
  • They should document their decision-making process to reassure fellow managers that marketing’s priorities are focused on the highest possible returns.
  • CMOs are also encouraged to draw up formal scenario and contingency plans which can be adjusted as the year progresses.

Key quotes

“Focusing on existing customers has a number of benefits for CMOs, namely being low cost and low risk. But low risk is matched by relatively low return” – Jay Wilson, VP analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice.

“CMOs must try to avoid reinventing the wheel in 2021 and remember: For every strategy you rescale, you must choose another to reduce or retire. For every strategy you try to reinvent, another must return to pre-pandemic levels and approach” – Augie Ray, VP analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice.

Sourced from Gartner