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Spencer Stuart Study: CMO Tenure Lengthening

CMO studyDespite the recent hand-wringing over the short life expectancy of CMOs, their tenure has actually been steadily growing since 2006, according to a new report from executive recruiting firm Spencer Stuart.  It’s now 48 months on average, up from 23.2 months in 2004-2006.   Still, that is less than half the average tenure of a CEO, which is 7 years, according to the study.  The study was based on analysis of CMOs at the top 100 firms by spending.

Corporations expect chief marketing officers to prove their work has a real impact on driving the business, said Greg Welch, global consumer goods and services practice at Spencer Stuart. “The CMO chair is a hot seat.”

CMOs who are successful have a strong understanding of marketing technology and the effective and responsible use of consumer data.  This greater knowledge of how consumers interact with brands, and how to automate and personalize experiences in real time, is essential for “a new breed of sopshisticated” marketing chiefs, according to the

This analysis corroborates a long-held TopRight principle:  Your marketing technology investment is useless without a great strategy and the right story to tell. 

Similar to past years of the study, CMO tenure varies widely across industries, Spencer Stuart reports. Tenure is shortest in the automotive, restaurant and retail sectors, averaging between 26 to 40 months. CMOs in technology companies, meanwhile, continue to enjoy the longest tenure, averaging 65 months. Not far behind, are financial services and industrial CMOs, both averaging 63 months.

The study also suggests that while CMOs enjoy a longer lifespan, they also face increased pressure.  Marketing is expected to be measurable and effective.   Anything less than optimization of business value is unacceptable.  Since many CMOs change agencies or brand strategy when they take the role, that could also contribute to shorter tenure if consumers do not like the change.

Confidence that you are using marketing technology successfully is key to success – at every level of the marketing organization.  Take the #TopRight Integrated Martketing Report Card (it’s just six questions) to see a snapshot of your success along key measures, and identify areas of urgent opportunity.


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