Marketers losing faith in marketing to fend off rivals

Talk to most marketers and you would be hard-pushed to find anyone who did not live and breathe their brand, but a new survey suggests that, scratch under the surface and all is not well, with only 3% strongly believing marketing can protect their business from market changes and competitor innovations, while nearly half (46%) do not believe their own work has helped to protect their brand.
The research, conducted for agency Cubo by The Centre for Brand Analysis, compared the opinions of 200 decision-makers in marketing and finance and exposes a bizarre cocktail of both complacency and under-confidence.
It initially revealed a complacency among both CMOs and CFOs around the general stability of their market and their businesses’ ability to compete within it. Some 74% of marketers and 79% of financiers feel their sectors are stable or in growth, while 84% of marketers and 91% of financiers believe their brand is equal to or ahead of competitors in terms of product and service development capabilities.
Even more telling is that only 20% of marketers and 30% of financiers are concerned about the threat of innovation and only 26% of marketers and 23% of financiers believe that their market intelligence would not prepare them for predicting changes.
However, the research also revealed surprising key findings around current confidence in marketing, with marketing professionals appearing to have lost faith in their own ability to make an impact.
The majority of marketers (71%) stated they felt investment in marketing offers less than a 20% contribution to protecting the business against market changes, compared to other areas like new tech, product development, and internal culture.
And on average, ‘marketing’ was believed to contribute only 21% towards a business’ immunity, while ‘brand’ was only 16%. Meanwhile only 3% of marketers strongly believe marketing could protect their business from market changes and competitor innovations.
Likewise, marketers’ justifications of their decisions clearly aren’t landing with colleagues. CFOs rank ‘brand’ as the least important area of investment to protect their business from change in the market, and ‘marketing’ as the second least important.
They have far great belief in new technology (perceiving a 25% contribution towards immunity) to keep them well protected.
This underlines a clear need for marketers to communicate more clearly with colleagues to ensure that they understand and support the reasoning behind marketing decisions, the report claims.
Cubo head of planning Nick Ward said: “While CFOs did pay some lip service to longer-term brand-building in our survey, they also rated ‘brand’ and ‘marketing’ as being their lowest areas of investment to build immunity. That latter point probably demonstrates the truth of the matter, especially in light of the well-documented trend towards boardroom short-termism within our industry.
“The fact that CFOs have far greater belief in ‘technology’ as a source of immunity, over ‘marketing’ and ‘brand’, suggests that marketing teams are failing to communicate exactly what they are doing, why it is needed, and how valuable their work is in protecting a brand.”
Ward continued: “That’s bad enough, but the most worrying part of this research is that marketers themselves appear to doubt whether ‘marketing’ or ‘brand’ drives immunity. If marketers have lost faith in their own contribution, how can we expect them to articulate it clearly to their colleagues in finance? This is a wake-up call to revitalise belief in the protective strength of ‘marketing’ and ‘brand’, which seems to have slipped in recent years. Marketers should be ranking their contribution to immunity a great deal higher than 21% (marketing) and 16% (brand).”

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