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‘Low Risk, Low Return’ Policy in Spotlight for CMOs in 2021, Says Report

David Paul



Marketers will remain cautious with growth strategies this year, relying on existing customers to drive growth.

New research by Gartner has revealed that chief marketing officers (CMOs) will look to existing customers to fuel growth in 2021.

A conducted survey revealed that 73% of CMO’s would prefer this approach instead of looking to develop new markets.

The ‘Gartner CMO Strategic Priorities Survey 2021′ showed that 39% of marketers hope to increase sales from current customers while 34% plan on attempting to sell new products to their old customers in 2021.

Data indicated that only 18% of CMO’s intend to enter a new market using products they already sell, while only 7% looking to enter new markets with the introduction of new products.

Jay Wilson, the vice president analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice, commented on the findings: “Focusing on existing customers has a number of benefits for CMOs, namely being low cost and low risk. But low risk is matched by relatively low return.

“At the same time, we see CMOs being overly ambitious in terms of the change they expect to bring to how their organizations interact with customers.

“With the scale of recent change organizations have experienced as a result of Covid-19, CMOs must take care to ensure their own strategic approach is matched to the enterprise’s aspirations.”

This ‘low risk, low return’ strategy comes off the back of a difficult year for marketers due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Gartner’s survey of 381 marketers from September through October 2020 explored 11 marketing strategies to see whether CMO’s would repurpose, retained or fully retire as they are no longer sustainable in a post-pandemic world.

Half of the respondents reported they intend to rescale or reinvent six of the 11 strategies, while 31.8% said they plan to “rescale or reinvent” eight of the 11 strategies.


“CMOs cannot reinvent and rescale everything while still executing effectively and remaining agile in a year that promises more challenges,” said Augie Ray, vice president analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “Those who attempt to reinvent too much simultaneously risk failing to do any one thing right while overburdening their teams.

“CMOs must try to avoid reinventing the wheel in 2021 and remember: For every strategy you rescale, you must choose another to reduce or retire. For every strategy you try to reinvent, another must return to pre-pandemic levels and approach.”

The pandemic has had an impact in other areas in the marketing sector as well, namely the take-up of different job roles.

Data collected by LinkedIn last week showed a huge jump in e-commerce roles, with an indicated 143% increase in hires, one of the fastest-growing sectors in 2020, as people changed the way that they shopped during the pandemic.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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