Does corporate structure impede business strategy?

A new CMO Council survey finds nearly half of marketers feel they are missing out by not maximizing engagement locally.

Can structure get in the way of strategy?

The U.S.-based CMO Council pursued that line of questioning it its latest survey, Reshaping Global Engagement Operations: Optimizing the Resonance and Relevance of Localized Marketing Initiatives. According to its research, CMOs are not wholly convinced that their strategies – whether an ability to roll out a truly global omnichannel campaign or adapt global campaigns for local use – are able to take hold thanks to key issues, gaps and deficiencies along the organizational spectrum.

The council asked 350 global marketing leaders (55% of whom are based in North America) their thoughts on operational reassessments and transformation, by interviewing marketing directors, CMOs and VPs of marketing at organizations with annual revenues ranging from US$50 million to greater than $5 billion across information technology, retail, packaged goods, travel and hospitality, finance and other industries.

Survey respondents were fairly evenly split between those who identified driving growth (51%) and optimizing the customer experience (47%) as being top of mind. Ninety-two per cent said they have “some level of confidence” that organizational capabilities will help reach 2019 fiscal goals.

The CMO Council took a closer look at what this level of confidence actually meant. When asked how confident they are that they will reach strategy goals with the organization’s current capabilities, the majority of marketers are a fairly confident bunch, as the results below show:


For many, budget (or rather, budget limitations which affect implementing new strategies) remains a primary bugbear and barrier to success. Respondents cited budget limitations as the key force holding organizations back, nearly double that of ever-changing leadership goals and inconsistent teamwork and collaboration, and above that of slow-moving culture or upskilling.


Despite appreciating the importance of localized experiences to the customer, especially those experiences that reflect a local culture, language and preferences (as is the case when marketing in Quebec, for example), marketers admit that they need more ammo to bring these campaigns to life.

According to the report, 45% of respondents feel that failing to adequately localize consumer insights/intelligence has affected brand engagement (only 5% said it had no impact). A deeper dive finds that 42% of marketers admit that centralization means that strategies and campaigns are often out of touch with the local customer. Overall, 42% struggle with global data and intelligence drawn from across the organization. Meanwhile, 37% say customer insights are weakened by a lack of local understanding within the team.

However, as the report points out, it’s not an all-or-nothing game. Those working within a wholly localized model admit that efficiency, scalability and agility are among the weakest benefits to their operational model, effectively exchanging customer proximity for efficiency.


Extremes, whether in business or politics, are a barrier to moving forward. According to the report’s recommendations, the key is to identify new processes to help centralize strategy while empowering internal resources to operate locally. In trying to address this, the CMO Council suggests marketers assess how much the target audience for a particular product or service varies by market, whether the use or consumption of that product or service is unique, the cultural dynamics at play and the distribution channels of the market in question.