Leading In Uncertain Times

Lessons from CMOs prepared for the Future

The role of the chief marketing officer is more difficult than ever. ‘Business as usual’ is no longer an option and the future is clouded by uncertainty. Although no one could have predicted the pandemic, some marketing leaders report feeling better prepared for the road to recovery than others.

The latest Dentsu CMO survey 2020 has just been released, and is available to download here. This is the largest survey of its kind, drawing on the views and input of 1,361 CMOs across 12 global markets, as they plan for recovery in the new normal.  What’s clear is that uncertainty abounds: the #1 challenge CMOs report is understanding how consumer behavior will change permanently as a result of the pandemic.  What’s also clear is that many CMOs are tapping historical playbooks for a new kind of recovery.

Within that context, this year’s CMO report identifies a cohort of ‘Frontier CMOs’ who are feeling well-prepared for the future and deploying a handful of key strategies to propel their organizations’ recovery (and in many cases, transformation).

For example:

  • Hyper-empathy: Understanding consumers more deeply and updating knowledge in real-time (e.g. using first party data) to create helpful experiences.
  • Hyper-agility: Acting like a start-up by using consumer insight to rapidly develop new and relevant messaging, products and services.
  • Hyper-collaboration: Integrating across the C-suite and internal departments such as finance, operations and product development, as well as external partners/suppliers.  
  • Hyper-consolidation: As we come out of the crisis and into a tentative recovery phase, a number of brands have taken steps to consolidate their portfolios and prioritize larger, more resilient parts of their business.


These approaches are setting these CMOs apart from the rest, providing a potential blueprint for future growth and reasserting the role of marketing within the boardroom.

The Dentsu CMO survey 2020 is available to download here.

About Dentsu

Dentsu is a modern marketing solutions company. Our mission is to help clients navigate, progress and thrive in a world of change. Businesses rely on our integrated network of agencies and specialized practices to champion meaningful progress through creative, media, commerce, data and technology. Part of Dentsu Group, our global network comprises 40,000 diverse people in 148 countries, who are dedicated to teaming for growth and good. Some of our award-winning agencies include, 360i, Carat, dentsumcgarrybowen, DEG, dentsuX, iProspect and Merkle.


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