NEW YORK: Just 16% of marketers believe they are truly responsive to consumer needs, a failing attributable in part to the way most brands have leveraged digital channels to date, a study from the CMO Council has revealed.

The executive network partnered with Danaher, a company with a portfolio spanning product design, manufacturing and marketing, to survey 153 senior marketers.

Alongside learning that less than one in five participants can make rapid alterations to products, experiences, services, and packaging based on evolving shopper demands, they found that 45% rate their performance on this metric as “fairly good”.

Thirty-six percent of the panel featured in the research – which was entitled “The Responsiveness Requirement: Meeting the Consumer When and Where It Matters to Drive Growth” – said their firm’s capabilities in this area varied by channel.

Overall, these figures suggest most marketers are lagging behind the expectations of today’s consumers – standards that, in turn, are increasingly set by nimble, flexible, instant-gratification pioneers in the digital space.

“In fact, it is the digital realm that has set the pace of responsiveness in the minds of the consumer,” the study said. (For more details, read WARC’s exclusive report: Marketers fail to respond to consumer needs.)

Building on this theme, the analysis reported that 43% of brands could respond to customer feedback about marketing campaigns in less than 24 hours on digital. But this trend has raised consumer expectations in the offline world, too.

“On the surface, this is exceptional news, as marketers are acting quickly and, when and where possible, exceeding the expectation of the consumer by quickly responding to suggestions, requests, issues and complaints. But this also sets a precedent,” the study warned.

Drilling down into this topic, the study argued marketers will need to rethink their priorities, having traditionally favoured a “strategy of convenience”, rather than pursuing a model based around “optimal customer engagement”.

“Digital, in the past several years, has emerged as the efficiency powerhouse: easy to create, easy to deploy and even easier to track, measure and prove return,” the CMO Council report said.

“But the impact of physical touchpoints like [point of purchase] and product packaging were asked to take a back seat: too hard to create, too hard to update, too hard to track and measure, and even harder to reimagine at the speed of customer expectation,” the study said.

Reducing this gap will be essential to delivering consistent omnichannel experiences, but demands implementing new procedures in terms of accessing and activating data, identifying appropriate partners and modifying organizational cultures.

“Corporate culture issues, either within the marketing function or across the entire organization, are not simple to resolve,” the study warned.

Data sourced from WARC