Marketers now more valued by CEOs, McKinsey study finds

Results are from ongoing series of studies with Cannes Lions.

Clockwise from top left: Raja Rajamannar (Mastercard), Alessandra Bellini (Tesco), Marc Pritchard (P&G) and Syl Saller (Diageo)
Clockwise from top left: Raja Rajamannar (Mastercard), Alessandra Bellini (Tesco), Marc Pritchard (P&G) and Syl Saller (Diageo)

Chief executives are looking to marketers to drive company growth and are actively supporting chief marketing officers, according to research from management consultancy McKinsey & Company that was unveiled in Cannes.

Its study of global CEOs showed that marketing is being increasingly seen as an integral element of business success, with other parts of a company – from product innovation to finance to HR – all looking to work with the marketing department.

Of those surveyed, 83% said marketing can be a major driver of growth. However, more needs to be done to realise this opportunity, as 23% of CEO respondents do not feel marketing is delivering on that agenda.

When looking at how marketing can drive business growth, McKinsey identified a group of CMOs that it calls "unifiers" – those who are able to create the most productive relationships, particularly with the finance or HR departments.

These have been identified as the most "sceptical" parts of an organisation when it comes to recognising marketing's value. McKinsey research into chief financial officers showed that, of the CFOs surveyed, only half said marketing delivers on the promise of driving growth, while 40% do not think marketing investments should be protected during a downturn. 

Further analysis showed that high-growth companies are seven times more likely to have a "unifier" CMO. Unifiers make up 24% of CMOs.

Marketers who are not able to foster relationships or do not have the support of peers are referred to as "loners" (27%), with McKinsey saying most marketers (49%) are somewhere in-between. 


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