The Inspiration for this piece came from an article in the Harvard Business Review (July-August) 2020. Sighting a report by Standard and Poor, the editor wondered if the CMO’s (Chief Marketing Officer) fortunes are declining? He wondered if marketing as a function is losing its relevance, attraction & luster? The editors looked at the five biggest and highest-paid executives of each of the S & P 1500 firm from 1999 to 2017 and their findings were amazing.
The report shows how the fortune of the brands and marketing team especially at the leadership level is fast diminishing. The editors attributed this to the proliferation of tech, which tends to invest less in traditional marketing, a decline in retailers and manufacturers’ (which a more reliant on it) and changes to marketing itself as customers increasingly get information online rather than from ads. The traditional adman by implication would soon be an endangered species in a few years’ time except he reinvents himself for relevance in this new normal. Customers are withdrawing into their private space in the home instead of spending valuable hours in front of the tube.
The uniqueness associated with getting insightful information from consumers in focus groups and from direct quantitative marketing research is gone forever. Any member of the management team can sit at their desk and with high-capacity internet connection access and assess different types of marketing data and draw quick marketing conclusions and make a decision. The marketing researchers’ exclusive access to the consumer is fast eroding.
According to Ugo Geri-Robert, Managing Director of The Insight Place (TIP) and a fellow of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), a good number of emerging executives at the CMO position come from the marketing communication industry and have equated pushing of sales to heavy advertising … this may not be totally correct because marketing is beyond integrated marketing communication. Geri-Robert again notes that brands must be built from the ground up. Brands must have legs to stand them … where this is not known, done and developed, the brand would come crashing down at some point.
One is also of the opinion that COVID has eroded the thirst for anything sophisticated. All consumers want today is to survive now and brands seem of low interest in the current mix … people just want the basics to survive and move on in life before things stabilize later.
In view of the above the basic message for the hitherto star boys of the corporate world the so-called money spinners and cash cow. Reinvent or die. If you disagree feel free to share your thoughts and we shall do our best to publish them on these pages in the near future
Michael Umogun is the Deputy Registrar, Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN) and can be reached on 08023117069