CMO Survey


The CMO Survey: Special edition report

COVID-19 and the state of marketing

This COVID-19 edition of The CMO Survey report aims to provide the marketing profession with an understanding of how marketing activities, jobs, spending, and firm performance has been impacted by recent events.

The impact of COVID-19 on marketing

The onset of COVID-19 has resulted in seismic shifts across marketing, businesses, industries, processes, and most aspects of daily life. Since the latest iteration of The CMO Survey was released in February of 2020, the world and its operations have been entirely upended. Across the globe, organizations and marketing leaders have been forced to pivot their traditional strategies and tactics in order to remain afloat.

As a result of these monumental changes, we have released a special edition of The CMO Survey which seeks to understand COVID-19’s impact on marketing from a budget, performance, talent, and organizational perspective. The report underscores marketing’s special position between the business and the marketplace and offers forward-looking insights regarding customer behavior, economic forecasts, and managing growth during these uncertain times. The survey draws on the historical inputs of previous reports to develop leadership lessons applicable across periods of crisis into the future.

Current marketing sentiment

This survey of 274 senior-level marketers highlights the varying levels of success of organizations in weathering the pandemic’s storm. Marketers are reporting plummeting levels of optimism about the US economy previously only seen during the Great Recession of 2008, with B2B companies reporting higher levels of optimism than B2C companies. Marketers, however, are more optimistic about their own organizations than the overall economy (68.8 out of 100 versus 50.9).

During the pandemic, 62.3 percent of marketers report that the marketing function has increased in importance, but they are split in their level of preparedness for the pandemic (mean 3.8) and reported a high level of reliance on improvisational tactics to generate new strategies. When developing marketing strategies, marketers turned to internal information sources such as marketing team knowledge and experiences, top management and conversations with the sales team. COVID-19 has increased companies’ time spent preparing for the future, and many believe the better customer-facing digital interfaces they have built during this time will be important long-term opportunities for their companies.

Marketing jobs and skillsets post-pandemic

The CMO Survey reports a significant 9 percent of marketing jobs have been lost due to the pandemic, and 24 percent of marketers do not expect those jobs to return. During the past few months, marketing employees that organizations have retained have been used to get active online and promote company offerings, develop new advertising and promotional strategies and reach out to current customers with information. Expected marketing hiring has dropped to historic lows, going negative for the first time ever (-3.5 percent). When thinking about the future marketing talent needs, many marketers have prioritized the ability to pivot as new priorities emerge, creativity and innovation skills, and the ability to navigate ambiguity.

Budget and spending changes during the pandemic

While overall organization budgets and revenues have dropped, marketing budgets have risen to the highest percentage of organization budgets and revenues in the Survey’s history (12.6 percent and 11.4 percent respectively). Approximately 30 percent of marketers have experienced no change to their overall marketing budget during the past few months, and an increase in spending of about 10 percent of marketing budgets on customer experience since the February 2020 Survey. Spend on mobile and social increased 70 percent and 74 percent respectively during the pandemic and are expected to increase further within the next year. But overall marketing spending is predicted to face reductions in the next 12 months. Spend on social is increased and people feel like it is making an impact through brand awareness retaining customers and acquiring new customers.

Building the new normal

When it comes to rebuilding the world, marketers believe that smaller companies will rebound faster, likely due to their ability to be nimble. Customers are expressing increased value placed on digital experiences and a greater acknowledgement of companies’ attempts to do “good.” Marketers expect customers will place the highest priority on trusting relationships (29.3 percent) marking a significant increase from February 2009 (19.9 percent). Marketers have reported that social media’s contribution toward company performance spiked dramatically over the past few months.

About The CMO Survey

Deloitte supports the CMO Survey—conducted biannually since 2008 by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business marketing professor Christine Moorman—as a measure of how marketing leaders are navigating this brave new world. The survey reports on their priorities and plans enabling marketers to compare staffing, budgeting, and investment areas, and identify potential trends.

Interested in participating in the upcoming CMO Survey?

About The CMO Program

Deloitte’s CMO Program supports CMOs as they navigate the complexities of the role, anticipate upcoming market trends, and respond to challenges with agile marketing. CMOs often hold one of the most innovative and challenging roles in business today.

Those who excel can operate at the highest level to drive growth and create value for their organizations. Deloitte helps bolster the value CMOs deliver as they advance along their career journeys.

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