The Evolving Role of the CMO

How CMOs Can Align with the Business to Drive Success

Executive Summary

The average tenure of the CMO has hit a 10-year low. While these executives are being squeezed from all sides of their organization, the biggest source of pressure comes from a lack of alignment with the needs of the business. Understanding CMO archetypes will help senior marketers find the right role for their particular set of skills.

How are today’s CMOs faring in their role?

The remit of the chief marketer has been changing for decades. But in recent years, the rate of change has accelerated. Our research with more than 35 CMOs, academics, board members, and industry advisors shows that marketers are struggling to keep pace with the new demands.

What factors are shaping the role of the CMO?

CMOs must operate against a backdrop of increased consumer expectations, disruptive external developments, and complex internal relationships. Meanwhile, their list of responsibilities continues to expand, and the greater reliance on technology requires CMOs to spread their resources and attention.

How can CMOs be successful?

They should focus on connecting the marketing strategy to their organization’s business strategy, as well as adopting a leadership style that matches both. Prospective CMOs must seek out roles in which their core strengths align with the needs of the specific opportunity.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? We discuss the challenges chief marketers face in successfully executing in their role, then provide a set of archetypes and a framework whereby prospective CMOs can help ensure company fit.

KEY STAT: The average CMO tenure in the US fell to 40.0 months in 2020, its shortest since 2009, per executive recruitment firm Spencer Stuart. For success and longevity in the role, CMOs must identify their company’s needs and align their skills accordingly.

Here’s what’s in the full report


Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.


Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.

17expert perspectives

Insights from industry and company leaders.

    Table of Contents

    1. Executive Summary
    2. Key Points
    3. CMOs Struggle in Their Role
    4. Marketers Get Squeezed From All Sides
    1. The Expanding CMO Role Is Becoming Unwieldy
    2. CMO Success Requires Better Business Alignment
    3. Insider Intelligence Interviews
    4. Read Next
    1. Sources
    2. Media Gallery

    Interviewed for This Report

    Heidi Browning
    Senior Executive Vice President and CMO
    Interviewed November 24, 2021
    David Cooperstein
    Interviewed November 9, 2021
    Mary DePaoli
    Executive Vice President and CMO
    Interviewed August 18, 2021
    David Edelman
    Harvard Business School
    Senior Lecturer, Business Administration
    Interviewed November 16, 2021
    Carolyn Feinstein
    Chief Marketing, Growth, and Design Officer
    Interviewed June 21, 2021
    Laura Curtis Ferrera
    Global CMO
    Interviewed August 18, 2021
    Sanjiv Gajiwala
    The Kraft Heinz Company
    Chief Growth Officer, US
    Interviewed November 29, 2021
    Rose Hamilton
    Compass Rose Ventures
    Founder and CEO
    Interviewed November 23, 2021
    Francesco Lagutaine
    M&T Bank
    Chief Marketing, Communications, and Digital Officer
    Interviewed December 3, 2021
    Carol Meyers
    Scale It Up
    Growth Advisor
    Interviewed November 8, 2021
    Justin Morcelle
    Interviewed June 24, 2021
    John Sheldon
    Interviewed December 27, 2021
    David Thuma
    Executive Vice President and CMO
    Interviewed July 21, 2021
    Greg Welch
    Spencer Stuart
    Interviewed November 24, 2021
    William White
    Interviewed December 3, 2021
    Kimberly Whitler
    University of Virginia Darden School of Business
    Frank M. Sands Sr. Associate Professor of Business Administration
    Interviewed December 2, 2021
    Steven Tristan Young
    Interviewed November 19, 2021

    Access full deck

    View a slide-show representation of this report’s key insights, where carefully vetted data is combined with industry trend analysis, included at no extra cost.
    Download PPTX























    Access All Charts and Data

    Gain access to reliable data presented in clear and intelligible displays for quick understanding and decision making on the most important topics related to your industry, included at no extra cost.


    Dave Frankland


    Maria Elm
    Senior Analyst
    Andrew Lipsman
    Principal Analyst, Retail & Ecommerce
    Tracy Tang
    Senior Researcher

    "Behind the Numbers" Podcast