Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Customer obsession will be the cornerstone of successful businesses next year, according to a recent Forrester report. It says that if chief marketing officers (CMOs) are not prepared to step up to the plate to drive customer obsession, their role will be usurped by another C-suite executive, such as chief growth officers.

The report, “Predictions 2018: The CMO Bar Rises With More Pressure For Growth”, maintains that in global companies such as Coca-Cola, Hershey’s and Kellogg’s, the chief growth officer has already assumed responsibility for customer obsession and predicts that this shift will take place at another eight Fortune 100 brands in the next year.

The big take-out: According to Forrester, there is a new pressure on CMOs to drive growth in their organisations, or they face being replaced. Implicit in this is customer obsession and experience as well as the understanding of consumer emotion at a deeper level than ever before.

The report says growth will become the priority for marketers in 2018. There will also be a trend toward breaking down the silos that exist between customer experience teams and brands, and this will help ensure that the customer experience delivers on the brand’s promise.

Of course, technology remains an important focus for the new year, and CMOs need to know their tech in order to use the insights gathered and translated by technology into integrated brand experiences that enhance consumer trust in brands. Budget will be allocated to marketing technologies, automation and commerce capabilities.

Questions about the transparency and effectiveness of digital advertising, which have been increased by Procter & Gamble‘s US$140m withdrawal from advertising earlier this year, is making adspend increasingly hard to motivate for and justify. Forrester predicts that other brands will follow suit and repurpose this budget to invest in customer experience.

In this landscape, the report maintains that savvy CMOs will focus on experience and emotion, saying they will blend their knowledge of technology, their insight-driven mindsets and their emotional empathy with consumers to drive growth and innovation.

Customers, it says, want to form close connections. Because of this, CMOs will be driven more than ever to understand their customers at a deeper level, and the use of data will help in this regard. “Emotion is embedded into every customer interaction. Every time a customer directs his attention somewhere, gives something emphasis or remembers something, it is because emotion told him to do so,” the report states.  

The CMO who is able to recognise this and use these insights, emotions and connections to create a deeper focus on customer obsession will drive growth from within the marketing department.

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