The year 2023 has been and continues to be characterized by crises that repeatedly present the economy with enormous challenges. It's no wonder that many market participants are rather cautious about future expectations and are treating investments with caution. CMOs sit at the central levers of companies and have a good sense of where the marketing journey is heading in the future. Their professional assessment serves as a valuable seismograph for the business mood in companies and agencies, documents the most important trends and formulates relevant requirements.
The three key findings of the current "CMO Barometer", which was conducted in eleven countries in September this year, provide an outlook for the marketing year 2024:
- 34% of international CMOs (DACH region: 28%) are optimistic about 2024, while 40% of the decision-makers surveyed (DACH region: 32%) even expect marketing budgets to increase.
- The use of new technologies, above all AI, will be THE top topic in marketing in 2024. Successful companies and brands will create connections between artificial and emotional intelligence in the future.
- The most important skill for CMOs will be openness to trends and new technologies. Marketing teams must become high-performance organizations. Clients expect a challenger mindset from their agency partners.
More than half of the CMOs surveyed see artificial intelligence, machine learning and marketing automation as the key marketing trend in 2024. The country comparison clearly shows that the equipment of marketing teams will vary from market to market: The UK and the Netherlands, for example, are focusing on greater relevance with the right formats rather than creating new processes and structures. In contrast, there is international consensus on the two dominant marketing trends in 2024: AI and sustainability.
Compared to the last survey, the CMOs surveyed at the time still tended to mention general leadership skills in terms of strengthening future viability. For 2024, the study revealed that prudence, foresight and implementation skills will be in demand in the future. The results of the comprehensive study also show that CMOs will have to be even more managers of complexity in 2024 than before.
Expectations of agencies are complex
The barometer also reveals very clear findings with regard to the expectations of clients towards their communication service providers. In 2024, agencies must have a challenger mindset at eye level in order to recognize customer challenges and solve them proactively, strategically and creatively. The expected impetus and the required skills are broadly diversified.
For the University of St.Gallen, which worked together with the Serviceplan Group for the first time on the implementation and evaluation, its Executive Director, Professor Dr. Sven Reinecke, outlines what he considers to be the relevant formula for success in marketing: "Marketing excellence = marketing strategy x craftsmanship x creativity. All three elements require constant further development in order to continuously lay the foundation for top performance."
The "CMO Barometer" is a comprehensive, annual international study conducted by Serviceplan Group. This year, the University of St.Gallen was also involved for the first time. Based on an online survey of marketing managers from companies of all sectors and sizes, a total of 767 CMOs from Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the Middle East took part in September 2023. The marketing professionals exclusively share their assessments for the marketing year 2024.