What makes a ‘pioneering CMO’?

New research by Accenture identifies the CMO traits that drive 11% higher shareholder returns.

Businesspeople At Meeting

CMOs’ slate of responsibilities may be ever-growing, but that hasn’t stopped a number of them from succeeding by taking charge of innovation, challenging conventional wisdom and collaborating with other senior leaders, according to new research from Accenture.

The business consultancy’s most recent survey, Way Beyond Marketing: The Rise of The Hyper-Relevant CMO, digs into what “pioneering CMOs” (or 17% of the report’s chief marketer respondents) are doing to generate shareholder returns that are 11% higher than their industry peers. The research is based on a survey of around 1,000 CMOs and 500 CEOs from 12 countries, including Canada, who work for companies with more than US $500 million in annual revenues.

Accenture’s findings suggest marketers pursue growth through three distinct areas.

First, they look for new revenue sources by focusing on innovation, while keeping the customer experience at the fore, states the report. That’s because “pioneering CMOs” are 27% more likely to prioritize innovation and 28% more likely to spend at least three-quarters of their time managing growth.

Second, Accenture’s findings show that the top marketers are focused on reinventing the customer experience and developing a consumer-centric culture. And that has led them to think positively about emerging marketing roles.

For example, they are more likely to see value in roles Accenture describes as “immersive experience designers,” whose responsibility is to connect digital strategies to physical experiences; in “marketing monitors,” who ensure the outputs of bots or AI capabilities don’t conflict with wider brand values; and in “reality checkers,” people outside of the organization who provide constant feedback to help keep companies grounded. They similarly express higher levels of openness to the roles of “trust leaders,” “futurologists and trend setters,” “cause matchmakers” and “artificial intelligence designers.”


This openness was deemed especially important given the broader context. According to Accenture, 90% of the CEOs and CMOs surveyed said they believe the marketing function will change fundamentally over the next three years, leading to a shift in the kinds of roles and skills they need to succeed.

Finally, the “pioneering CMOs” were found to be “rewiring operating models for growth.” That is, they are more inclined to collaborate and influence the C-suite by breaking down barriers. Seventeen percent of them identified as being more open to looking beyond traditional agency partners and 18% were more likely to consider the possibilities of new digital platforms.