Presenting Part Nine of a Ten-Part Series on The Future of Work from Time Magazine.
By David Von Drehle at Time.
The death of American manufacturing has been greatly exaggerated. According to U.N. statistics, the U.S. remains by far the world’s largest manufacturer, producing nearly twice as much value as No. 2 China. Since 1990, U.S. manufacturing output has grown by nearly $800 billion — an amount larger than the entire manufacturing economy of Germany, a global powerhouse.
But growth does not mean jobs. While sales soared (at least until the recession), manufacturing employment sank. Using constantly improving technology to make more-valuable goods, American workers doubled their productivity in less than a generation — which, paradoxically, rendered millions of them obsolete. (See pictures of retailers which have gone out of business.)
Some good news for marketing heads: Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are holding on to their jobs longer. Spencer Stuart’s annual survey of CMO tenure at the 100 most advertised brands in the USA reveals average time on the job has risen to 28.4 months from 26.8 months in 2007 and 23.2 months in 2006.
The popular interpretation of this data is that CMOs are aligning better with CEOs. The latter are no longer expecting instant rainmaking and the former have learnt to be humble. CMOs have learned not to pontificate about brand values before researching the issue, and they no longer fire the incumbent advertising agency the day after being appointed. The best CMOs stay low-key and aim to make the CEO, who is often from a non-marketing background, comfortable becoming the chief cheerleader for the brand.
The economic recession has, perhaps surprisingly, elevated the standing of the CMO. It hasn’t always been this way, to be sure. So how can CMO’s solidify this standing with the chief? Here are the four top marketing issues on which today’s CEOs are looking to their CMOs for guidance:
Shifting consumer behavior. The recession has induced dramatic changes in consumer attitudes and behaviors in many categories. Companies need updated consumer research and revised approaches to customer segmentation. The CEO needs a CMO who understands the company’s brands and consumers (and their comparative profitability) to recommend needed changes in customer targeting and brand messaging.