Survey: CMOs View COVID-19 Era Budget Cuts as Fleeting

Frances Ferrante
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STAMFORD, Conn.CMOs remain positive about business performance in the next 18 to 24 months, according to Gartner’s 2020 CMO Spend Survey. Despite mostly negative predictions from the rest of their C-level colleagues.

“We are seeing a significant number of CEOs and CFOs building scenario plans that include a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” cautioned Ewan McIntyre, Vice President Analyst for Gartner for Marketers. In its analysis, Gartner recommends CMOs plan for future budgetary pressures now, rather than gamble on budgets bouncing back.
In this survey of 432 CMOs in North America, the U.K., France and Germany, 73% of respondents said they expect the pandemic’s negative impact to be short-lived.

In fact, many reported plans to increase spending in some areas in 2021: 74% will up their spending on digital advertising, 66% on paid search and 68% on marketing technology.

In the pre-COVID era, marketing budgets were already flat. Since the pandemic, 44% of CMOs have experienced mid-year budget cuts and 11% of those expect their budgets to face significant cuts of more than 15%.

The survey also found that a full third of CMOs now rank brand strategy as one of their top three strategic priorities — a significant leap from 2019 and the first time branding has surpassed other priorities such as analytics, personalization and marketing technology (martech).

Analytics still remains a top priority, but has dropped in rank, and Gartner predicts that 85% of marketers will abandon their personalization efforts completely by 2025.

Martech still makes up just over one-quarter of companies’ marketing budgets, and 68% of CMOs expect that number to grow over the next 12 months.

The two-part survey can be downloaded here: 2020 CMO Spend Survey Part 1 and Part 2 .

Reach Ewan McIntrye at +44 20 7632 6000 and ewan.mcintyre@gartner.com.