|Source: “The CMO Survey” (Christine Moorman, 2023)|
(This month’s Research Round-Up is devoted entirely to the March 2023 edition of “The CMO Survey.” This research has been conducted semi-annually since 2008, and it consistently provides a wealth of valuable information about marketing trends, spending, and practices.)
The findings of the latest edition of “The CMO Survey” were released late last month. “The CMO Survey” is directed by Dr. Christine Moorman and is sponsored by Deloitte LLP, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association.
The March 2023 survey results are based on responses from 314 senior marketing leaders at for-profit companies based in the United States. Over six in ten of the respondents (61.8%) were affiliated with B2B companies, and 97% were VP-level or above. The survey was in the field from January 10-31, 2023.
Dr. Moorman and her colleagues typically produce three reports for each U.S. edition of the survey.
- “Highlights and Insights Report” – This is a relatively brief and graphically-rich report that provides mostly overall survey results and analyzes those results and major marketing trends.
- “Topline Report” – This report provides response data at the aggregate level for all survey questions.
- “Firm and Industry Breakout Report” – This report provides response data by four economic sectors (B2B product companies, B2B services companies, B2C product companies, and B2C services companies), 15 industry verticals, company size, and volume of internet sales. This report is lengthy but provides the most detailed view of the survey data.
In this post, I’ll be discussing the responses of B2B marketers exclusively, unless otherwise indicated. The percentages and other numerical values in this post are the mean of applicable survey responses, also unless otherwise indicated.
Marketers’ Views On the Economy
For the past several years, “The CMO Survey” has asked participants for their views on economic conditions, and the March edition of the survey was no exception. It asked participants to rate their level of optimism regarding the overall U.S. economy on a 100-point scale, with “0” being the least optimistic, and “100” being the most optimistic. The following chart shows how B2B marketers rated their optimism in the six surveys conducted since June 2020.
As this chart shows, B2B marketer optimism reached a post-pandemic peak in the August 2021 survey and has declined slightly since. The chart also shows that marketer optimism has changed very little since the September 2022 survey.
The March survey also asked participants if they were more or less optimistic about the U.S. economy compared to the previous quarter. The following table shows how B2B marketers responded.
The results in this table suggest that B2B marketers have become more optimistic since last fall. In the March survey, 32.0% of respondents with B2B product companies, and 24.7% of respondents with B2B services companies said they were more optimistic compared to the previous quarter. In the September 2022 survey, only 14.7% of respondents with B2B product companies, and 13.1% of respondents with B2B services companies reported being more optimistic.
Marketing Spending Trends
The March edition of “The CMO Survey” found that the growth of marketing spending by B2B companies over the preceding 12 months was slow and that B2B survey respondents expect the growth of their marketing spending to be anemic in the year following the survey.
The March survey asked participants by what percent their marketing spending had changed in the prior 12 months and by what percent they expected their spending to change in the next 12 months (relative to the prior 12 months). The following table shows how the B2B survey respondents answered these questions.
The results in this table are substantially different from the comparable results in the September 2022 edition of the survey. In September, respondents with B2B product companies said their marketing spending had grown 12.78% in the preceding 12 months, and respondents with B2B services companies reported spending growth of 13.78% over that period.
In September, expectations for future spending growth were also very positive. Respondents with B2B product companies expected their marketing to grow by 8.06% in the 12 months following the survey, and B2B services respondents expected spending growth of 15.41%.
The March edition of “The CMO Survey” includes data regarding several other topics, and, like earlier editions, it provides a wealth of valuable insights for B2B marketers. In particular, the March survey contains several findings about brand management and brand marketing that I plan to discuss in a future post.