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CMO Survey

CMO Survey 2022: The Changing Customer

2022 has not been easy for brands. In a time of such uncertainty, it’s incredibly difficult for business leaders to chart a course for the long-term. But it’s not impossible. Armed with the right tools, team, and data, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) can not only cope, but conquer the challenges of 2022 and beyond.

Q2 2022 CMO Survey

In search of a bird’s-eye view of the modern marketing landscape, we spoke to those at the helm of marketing organizations: CMOs. In March, we interviewed 500 CMOs in the US and U.K., from brands of different industries, sizes, and business types to discover what channels, programs, and resources are needed to stay competitive while maintaining efficiency.

Over the next month, we’ll reveal the findings of our Q2 2022 CMO survey, which captures the state of spend and strategy in marketing, and sheds light on how brands and businesses can catch up, capitalize on market shifts, and connect with the modern consumer.

The first chapter in our mini-series is the focal point of every great brands’ marketing strategy: the customer.

The Customer Has Changed

Before 2020, discussion of business change was measured in terms of months and years. Even the most seismic events were assumed to take time before they shifted the way the brand does business.

The COVID-19 pandemic reordered the global economy, almost overnight, introducing a “new” customer that placed a new importance on empathy.

Then came 2021. As the world rebounded and faced new challenges (cough, cough: supply chain), prepared to say goodbye to cookies and embraced online shopping, this new customer found comfort in transparency and authenticity.

Now, we’re mid-2022. Over the past six months, the world has somewhat bounced back—just in time to welcome new variants and headlines of impending recession and financial doom. With changing times and circumstances comes an even newer customer who has, again, evolved.

Dive into a Digital Experience

COVID-19 was a once-in-a-generation acceleration for digital transformation, turning digital channels into the channels of choice—and necessity—for more customers than ever before. As a result, consumers are now increasingly looking to digital platforms to complete day-to-day tasks. How many of us don’t think twice about getting everyday groceries or food delivery online? Notifications from Imperfect Foods, reminding us that our groceries are en-route, generate an odd sense of anticipation that never seems to dilute.

Customer Behavior changes

The top three changes in customer behavior over the last 12 months in the US and U.K.

According to the CMO survey, the top three changes in customer behavior over the last 12 months in the US and U.K. were:

  • People shifting to digital platforms for their everyday needs,
  • Increased interest in “new” experiences or promotions
  • A move to values-based purchasing

An increase in both digital adoption and interest in “new” experiences open many doors for innovative and creative brands. The possibilities for promotion are endless when you have a slew of digital channels at your disposal.Be ahead of the curve when it comes to how you’ll use your digital marketing channels, but always consider what customers want in their connection.

Considering the Customer

Outside of the terrible toll of the virus itself, we’ve seen the much broader hidden impact of the pandemic. Many customers have reassessed what they want from their lives. And they’ve made some major interpersonal shifts accordingly.

For example, an upswing in divorce, break-ups, new relationships, and new pet adoptions were dominant shifts in customer behavior. And, as consumers fall out of love and invest more in relationships with their furry friends, they’re looking for more empathy from anyone they interact with—especially brands.

The CMOs surveyed in our study were acutely aware of the strain consumers have been under, and the effects of this strain on their businesses. Our respondents reported a major upswing in values-based purchasing, meaning that customers want to make sure there is meaning behind their transactions.

As inflation continues to rise, and customers become more cautious about their spending, brands need to communicate a deeper value to each dollar spent with their business.

Now that brands know what they need to do, strategically, to adjust to customer lifestyle shifts, it would be cogent to know where your colleagues and competition stands when it comes to customer connections.

Emotional Connection

We found that just over 72% of CMOs believe customers feel emotionally connected to their brands. A whopping 71.2% believe those same customers would stand by them in difficult times.

Connecting with customers is more than just delivering a product. Today, creating customer loyalty is rooted in how a customer feels about your brand and the overall customer experience.

Experience is Everything

Of course, now that we know what has changed for consumers, and how marketers need to adjust to meet these shifts in sentiment, it’s time to focus on the next 12 months. 

Focuses for the future

When it comes to the future, CMOs are clear-eyed on the three most important things for customers in the next year: World Class Customer Experience, Trustworthy Relationships, and Respecting Their Privacy.

At a high level, the data portrays a simple message: give customers a great experience, and they’ll buy more, be more loyal, and share their experience with friends. But what makes a truly great experience? Harmony. Individualization. Dynamic Content. And—the most important—human touch. Real connections enabled by technology but powered with creativity and care.

Connecting with customers is not always simple, but it’s always worth it. By investing in experience and continuously catering and personalizing your strategy to meet the needs of the changing consumer, you’ll secure a loyal user base for your brand that will stick with you through thick and thin. Luckily, the road to crafting this customer experience is not a solo one…

Join marketing practitioners all over the world. Register for Activate North America, happening September 7-9, to talk about the path forward for today’s most formidable (and customer-centric) brands.

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