The biannual Duke Fuqua CMO survey highlights growth strategies that are inward-focused, as well as incorporating the strengthening of marketing capabilities, a significant increase in strategic channel partnerships, continued growth in social media spending, and the continuing emergence of AI.
Growth is a top imperative for marketers, according to the latest CMO biannual survey conducted by Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in collaboration with Deloitte LLP and the American Marketing Association. Nearly 40% of the 323 CMO respondents to the survey put growth as their number one imperative, and another 30% of respondents put it at number two or three.
In responding to the challenges of maintaining growth, companies are focusing growth budgets inward rather than outward. Specifically, the results of the study show that companies are spending a majority of their growth budgets (55%) on building existing markets and offerings, with spending on product/service development next (21.8% of their growth budgets). Spending on new market development (13.5%) and diversification (9.6%) lag behind.
When the sample is restricted to B2C companies alone, the proportion is even greater, with 70.8% of the growth budgets of B2C companies spent on existing market penetration.
Further accenting their focus inward, firms in most industries spend the bulk of their budgets (87%) on domestic markets, continuing a steady rise that has been uninterrupted since 2012. Some industries do spend more internationally, notably mining and construction, consumer packaged goods, and transportation companies. When U.S. companies look beyond their domestic borders, Western Europe and China represent the biggest international markets for sales.
In addition to the emphasis on existing market and products and services, and on domestic markets over international markets, survey director and Fuqua School of Business professor Christine Moorman identified a number of growth strategies that emerged from the survey:
Optimism about the economic future dropped in this survey, which may explain the focus by a majority of companies on existing markets, existing products and services and domestic markets. Strengthening marketing capabilities is also key, especially if there is an economic downturn. At the same time, social media-based marketing continues to grow, notably to build the brand, and CMOs see a high potential for AI. In short, CMOs on the one hand focus on the more familiar domestic markets and existing customers and products, while at the same time continuing to explore upward-trending avenues for growth such as social media, AI and channel strategic partnerships.
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