A chief marketing officer (CMO), also called a global marketing officer or marketing director, or chief brand officer, is a corporate executive responsible for managing marketing activities in an organization. Whilst historically these titles may have signified a legal responsibility, for example at Companies House in the UK, the titles are less strict/formal in the 21st Century and allow companies to acknowledge the evolving and increasingly significant role that marketers can play in an organisation, not least because of the inherent character of successful marketers. The CMO leads brand management, marketing communications (including advertising, promotions and public relations), market research, product marketing, distribution channel management, pricing, customer success, and customer service.
The CMO is a member of the C-suite and typically reports to the chief executive officer. A number of senior vice presidents, vice presidents, directors, and other senior marketing managers responsible for various parts of the marketing strategy may report directly to the CMO.
A study from consulting firm Spencer Stuart in 2021 showed that women made up 47% of CMO positions in 2020, an increase from the 43% reported in 2019. 13% of CMOs had racially or ethnically diverse background in 2020, down from 14% in 2019.
The day-to-day tasks and responsibilities are often categorically different from one another, due to the fluid nature of the CMO's skill set: language is needed to stitch together all aspects of the company. Thus, in a given day the CMO completes tasks that fall into many different categories:
- Analytical tasks, such as pricing and market research
- Creative tasks, such as graphic design, advertising and product, and service promotion
- Interpersonal tasks, such as coordinating with other company executives in creating alignment on strategy and execution plans
The CMO must quickly react to the changing market conditions and competitive dynamics and must reshape, as needed, the company's strategy and execution plans based on real-time market scenarios. Each of these products comes from a different department, so the CMO must be a nexus of information: it is a highly receptive role, with involvement in departments such as production, information technology, corporate communications, documentation, public relations, law, human resources, and finance. In the 21st century, digitalization and the rise of consumer-centric marketing has changed the role of the CMO. They are now typically finding themselves handling customer-facing technology implementations in addition to the above tasks. One analyst predicted that in the future CMOs will spend more on IT than their counterpart CIOs. According to another analyst firm, few senior-executive positions will be subject to as much change over the next few years as that of the chief marketing officer.
Peers to the CMO include chief human resources officer, chief technology officer, chief financial officer, chief communications officer, chief procurement officer, chief information officer, and general counsel.
The CMO is responsible for facilitating growth, sales and marketing strategy. They must work towards objectives such as revenue generation, cost reduction, or risk mitigation. The unpredictable effect of marketing efforts, coupled with the need to drive profits, often leads to a short tenure for most CMOs. Consulting firm Spencer Stuart revealed average CMO tenure in 2020 was 40 months (a little over 3 years), which was the lowest in a decade. This compared with average CEO tenure of 7 years indicates challenge for CMOs to drive long-term growth.
In a CMO mapping study done by Raines, CMOs are losing their influence (73% of Fortune 250 companies have a Global CMO, but only 44% of Global CMOs sit in the C-suite). CMOs don't feel valued (23% of surveyed Fortune 500 CMOs were unsure their CEO understood their job). CMOs don't have clear alignment with their CEOs on key performance metrics (42% of surveyed Fortune 500 CMOs considered "Topline Revenue Growth" a top priority) whereas "topline growth" is typically one of the major priorities for CEOs at any stage of a business.
- McDonald, Malcolm. "The Post-Covid CMO in the Digital Age: The need for marketing planning is greater now than it has ever been". Marketors.org. Worshipful Company of Marketors. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
- Welch, Andrew (March 2008). "Who is the brand daddy?" (PDF). Landor.com. Landor Associates. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
- Germann, Frank; Ebbes, Peter; Grewal, Rajdeep (2015). "The Chief Marketing Officer Matters!". Journal of Marketing. SAGE Journals. 79 (3): 1–22. doi:10.1509/jm.14.0244. S2CID 168076084. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
- "Free Marketing Executive Search Guide 2020 | Hire Marketing Executives". Retrieved 26 March 2023.
- Ives, Nat (2021-04-29). "CMOs' Time in Their Posts Continues to Grow Shorter". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-04-30.
- Jefferson, Michaela (2021-04-29). "CMO tenure falls to lowest level in over a decade". Marketing Week. Retrieved 2021-04-30.
- "The evolving role of the CMO | McKinsey". www.mckinsey.com. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
- "7 Ways the Retail CMO Role Has Evolved". Archived from the original on 2015-08-13. Retrieved 2015-08-14.
- "By 2017 the CMO will Spend More on IT Than the CIO". Archived from the original on 2015-07-31. Retrieved 2015-08-14.
- "The evolving role of the CMO". Archived from the original on 29 August 2015. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
- "CMO Tenure Study: Progress for Women, Less for Racial Diversity". www.spencerstuart.com. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
- "CEO Succession Practices in the Russell 3000 and S&P 500". corpgov.law.harvard.edu. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
- Harbrecht, Amanda (2021-11-10). "The Wall Street Journal - Advice for Chief Marketing Officers - Raines". Raines International. Retrieved 2022-08-07.
- "From Stretched to Strengthened, Insights from the Global Chief Marketing Officer Study". IBM. October 2011. p. 34.
- Chief Marketing Officers: A Study of Their Presence in Firms'Top Management Teams doi:10.1509/jmkg.72.1.65
- The role and function of the chief marketing executive and the marketing department: A study of medium‐sized companies in the UK doi:10.1080/0267257X.1986.9963990
- Functional top management teams and marketing organization: exploring strategic decision-making doi:10.1509/jmkg.75.1.60
- Matthew Schwartz (November 30, 2005). "Study: Marketing execs still lack boardroom clout". BtoB magazine. Retrieved 2012-02-23.