ANA Study Reveals Marketers Making Strong Moves to Drive Growth

Investments to combat threats jumped 15 percentage points over last year

NEW YORK (October 15, 2015) — Marketers are making a strong pivot to growth and focusing on driving value for businesses, according to a recent survey, “Marketing Disruption II,” conducted by the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) in conjunction with GfK, a global market research firm.

In the report, “The Marketer Strikes Back,” a McKinsey & Co. analysis of nearly 400 client-side marketers showed a marked increase in concern for competitive forces and a focus on key drivers of the business, such as growth, CRM, and loyalty.

Concern over the impact of threats from more agile competitors saw the biggest year-over-year increase, jumping from 67 percent to 75 percent. The focus on investment to counteract that competitive challenge over the next one to three years jumped from 51 percent last year to 66 percent.

Many marketers are also breaking down some of the organizational barriers that traditionally hamper agility and flexibility, with a 65 percent increase in the shift to networked organizations. Technology remains a significant disruptive force, with concern for the impact of the Internet of Things increasing almost 20 percent from the previous year.

Other important findings highlight potential roadblocks to marketers’ focus on driving growth:

  • Weak insights: More than 40 percent of companies surveyed focus their resources primarily on the “customer experience” rather than the “product.” However, only 13 percent of companies feel strongly that they have identified their customers’ decision journeys and understand where to focus marketing.
  • Ineffective data: The ability to make data-guided decisions was the top mover in terms of capabilities marketers deemed important, increasing to 83 percent. But only 10 percent believed they were very effective at feeding insights into customer behaviors back into the organization to improve performance.
  • Lack of focus: From building capabilities (97 percent) to finding new partners (90 percent), marketers are embracing a “let’s do it all” approach, which has the danger of diffusing resources, creating coordination issues, and straining the organization.
  • Overextended: Marketers are seeing a significantly or somewhat larger role of agencies across a wide array of functions, from understanding the customer journey (40 percent) to content development and management (45 percent). The increased reliance on agencies is likely to create significant management complexity for marketers.
  • Slow pace: Despite the move to more networked marketing organizations, almost 60 percent of initiatives take at least six months to make it to market.

“What this survey highlights is an important pivot marketers are making to focus on those activities that really drive growth for the business,” says ANA President and CEO Bob Liodice. “The ability to deliver on growth, however, will depend on how well marketers can master marketing operations and shape the customer journey experience.”

About the Survey
The survey “Marketing Disruption II” was conducted online from July to August 2015 among a sample of 384 client-side marketers. Respondents were drawn from the ANA Marketer’s Edge Research Community, ANA members and prospects, the American Marketing Association, McKinsey & Co., Demand Metric, and Spencer Stuart. The ANA invited McKinsey & Co. to provide a fact-based analysis of the survey results. This analysis can be found in an independent McKinsey & Co. report, “The Marketer Strikes Back.”

About the ANA
The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) provides leadership that advances marketing excellence and shapes the future of the industry. Founded in 1910, the ANA’s membership includes nearly 700 companies with 10,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing and advertising. The ANA also includes the Business Marketing Association (BMA) and the Brand Activation Association (BAA), which operate as divisions of the ANA, and the Advertising Educational Foundation, which is an ANA subsidiary. The ANA advances the interests of marketers and promotes and protects the well-being of the marketing community.

About the Marketer’s Edge Research Program
These insights were gleaned as part of the ANA’s new Marketer’s Edge research program. The Marketer’s Edge program, with the help of research and consulting firm GfK, is giving a voice to marketers by guiding the research through Advisory Councils, quantifying the insights with surveys, validating the findings with marketers, and helping to guide the ANA to develop relevant solutions. From “engagement to empowerment,” this is a new way for the ANA to meet the challenges of marketing today.

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