Five years into the age of the customer and it's clear that we're just getting started. More technology is coming — Amazon Echo, anyone? — and that doesn't even begin to touch on the stuff that will hit closer to 2020 and beyond: virtual reality, augmented reality, self-driving cars, and robot assistants.
I'm pleased to introduce my latest report: "Leadership in the Age of the Customer." This project is the result of months of work to update our view of the age of the customer, a 20-year business cycle in which power is shifting from businesses and institutions to end consumers. Technology, information, and connectivity are combining to instill in people a belief that they can have what they want, when, where, and how they want it.
The key to emerging triumphant through all of this will be customer obsession. Organizations that put the customer at the center of their process, policies, and practices will successfully develop and deliver the experiences that hyperadoptive customers are ready to embrace. That will mean changing the operating model of the organization to be more customer-obsessed. It will also require that executives consciously lead the organization to customer obsession.
In the wake of a series of negative and well-publicized events in early 2013, Carnival Cruise Lines has since engineered a strong recovery and ranks as the No. 1 improved US brand in terms of consumer perception over the past year.
At Forrester’s Forum for Marketing Leaders next week, we’ll hear from Jim Berra, SVP & CMO at Carnival Cruise Lines, on how the well-known hospitality brand made this journey. In advance of his session, I sat down with Jim to talk about the evolution of his role at the company, and how he’s traversed the tricky path toward customer-obsession. Here’s a look at our conversation.
Q. How will your role change in the coming 3 to 5 year time period and what is driving this change?
A. It’s always fun to try to crystal ball where marketing will go and I’m 100 percent confident that I won’t get this right, but I’ll give it a shot. I think what will separate marketers has less to do with the role we’ve traditionally played and more to do with the role we are now being asked to play. This centers around how the product and customer experience should evolve, and how the organization will use data and consumer insight to unlock opportunities to innovate.
To do this well, it will require CMOs to collaborate effectively across a wider range of stakeholders, and in some cases, take a few steps outside of our comfort zones. It also requires taking a larger view of the business, and effectively balancing different internal and external perspectives.
This is a guest post by Samantha Merlivat, a researcher serving Marketing Leadership professionals.
Forrester’s Western European Online Display Advertising Forecast projects that online display advertising spend will rise at a CAGR of 10.3% between 2014 and 2019, jumping from €7.3 billion to €11.9billion. Two factors will account for the double-digit growth rate:
Mobile display will pick up quickly over the next five years, with tablet taking off full speed in virtually every European market. With their larger screen real estate and growing role in customers’ path to purchase, tablet-based ads will grow at a 40.5% CAGR over the period, attracting a third of total online display revenue by 2019.
Video and rich media formats are also growing strong. Video in particular will increase 20% annually over the next five years. Attracted by the higher opportunities for story-telling and building engagement, marketers will be willing to invest higher CPMs in these formats.
If companies are to thrive in this digital age — where buyers, empowered by technology, are in control — what should B2B marketing leadership do to evolve and survive the current pace of change?
Evolution is one of those great marketing clichés. The progression of man from ape to Homo sapien in five simple steps is one of those popular images most of us are guilty of using at one point to illustrate progressive change. But cliché also implies recognizable. Ask anyone to describe Charles Darwin's theory in one short sentence, and you will hear, "Well, it's about the survival of the fittest."
It's interesting to note, on the 154th anniversary month of the first publication of On the Origin of Species, that this description doesn't quite go far enough. What Darwin said was, "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." (Image source: Wikipedia shows the only image in the original publication of On the Origin of Species — Darwin's handwritten diagram showing how characteristics diverge over time.)
Listen up, B2B marketing leadership, this means you.
Internet, search marketing, digital advertising, sales enablement, social media, video, online communities, mobile, predictive analytics, content curation . . . Is it even possible for the pace of change in marketing activity to continue to accelerate? According to top marketing leaders in business-to-business (B2B) marketing, absolutely. So get ready, folks, the rocket ride isn't over.
During the month of May, Forrester and the BMA collaborated to entice and persuade 117 CMOs and senior VPs at firms roughly split between companies with fewer than 5,000 employees and those with 5,000 or more — to respond to attitudinal questions about the pace of change, the role of marketing, evolving skill sets, and the degree of collaboration between marketing and peer functions.