Gearing for Growth: The CMO at a crossroads

May 28, 2020


May 28, 2020

Michael Gold

Managing editor

Michael is a managing editor at Economist Impact. Although Michael has roots in Montreal, he grew up in Palo Alto, California and attended Yale University, where he majored in anthropology. Prior to joining the Economist Group, Michael was a correspondent for Reuters in Taipei, where he covered the technology sector. He has also worked in Beijing and is fluent in Mandarin. 


The role of the chief marketing officer (CMO) has transformed from traditional marketing and advertising tasks to overseeing broader enterprise growth. This poses a challenge to CMOs in terms of having to acquire a larger skill set and better understand diverse and rapidly changing business models. At the same time, this also offers new opportunities for CMOs to assume a greater role in their organisation.

CEOs increasingly look to CMOs to create value, which puts them in place to assume a rising C-suite role of the chief growth officer (CGO), with responsibilities that go far beyond the traditional marketing function. Given this development, it is also increasingly likely that tomorrow’s CMO can leverage this position to enhance their chance of becoming a CEO themselves.

This report finds that CEOs are aware of the growing importance of the role of the CMO and are taking steps to support them in this effort. However, there are also differences between the views of CEOs and CMOs in their role towards greater enterprise growth, and the key traits needed to achieve a growthcentred mind-set. The key findings of the report are:

  • The role of the CMO is changing. The position has already assumed new responsibilities, and this trend is likely to continue.
  • CEOs have high expectations for CMOs to drive growth.
  • CMOs face challenges in enhancing business growth but also opportunities in meeting them.
  • The capabilities of CMOs do not always match the vision of CEOs.
  • Chinese CMOs are more in line with CEO expectations on the role they need to play moving forward.

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