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Will CMOs Get Their Acts Together?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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The consumer is making moves, and in order for retailers to know what those moves are, organizational restructuring is necessary. At least, that is what RSR Research believes. The economic environment these past ten years have not been kind to many retailers, and the folks in charge, like most leaders, are trying to figure out how to best position their brands for the years to come.

Not an easy feat.

One of the crucial conversations happening in retailing is delegating the "ownership of the consumer." Meaning, who is responsible for overseeing and observing the consumer experience? Is it the CEO, CMO, someone different, someone new, or is the responsibility shared?

RSR Research released a 2012 report called Marketing in Retail: Making the Case for the CMO where it highlights the actions and responses of Winners, Average Performers, and Laggards, and how they have risen to the occasion of changing their marketing activities. The 33-page report is interesting, and a good read.

Some highlights:
- 28% of winners have the CMO as their highest marketing executive, compared to 5% of laggards.
- Customer retention and the fragmenting consumer market come in as two of the top three marketing challenges that retailers face.
- 24% of retailers do not have a person responsible for the consumer experience, while 22% have delegated that to the CMO and 19% to the CEO.
- 66% of Winners believe that marketing is very valuable in capturing consumer preference information and can help make targeting more efficient.
- 33% of Winners (those retailers with same store sales growth over 5%) leverage mobile advertising, compared to 23% of everyone else.
- The two highest priorities for retailing marketing departments include building the brand and driving sales (tied at 29%).
- Though customer purchase analytics are deemed very valuable by 57% of responders, only 31% of retailers are rolling out analytics, and only 24% made a budget for it.

Overall, the report shows the need for retail marketing to take a serious look at giving the CMO more responsibility and visibility within the organization. The CMO needs to have the authority to oversee the customer experience. Also, the CMO and CIO/CTO need to communicate clearly about what kinds of software and technology the marketing department needs in order to gather the necessary consumer data. The retailers surveyed understand the need to change, but the organizational structures and communication channels prohibit that change from happening.

RSR research even suggested creating a new role — Customer Experience Officer — to whom the CMO reports to if "internal politics" is an issue.

Not a bad idea.

The need for data in marketing and advertising should not be understated. For marketing departments to understand consumer behavior by looking at data provides more insight than simply asking consumers questions. The data, too, can assist retailers in organizing their operations in the most efficient way possible.

And marketing can take the lead.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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