[Research Round-Up] B2B Highlights From “The CMO Survey”

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Source: The CMO Survey

(This month's Research Round-Up is devoted entirely to the most recent edition of The CMO Survey, which was published in late February. The CMO Survey has been conducted semi-annually since 2008, and it consistently provides a wealth of valuable information about marketing spending, trends and practices.)

The findings of the latest edition of The CMO Survey were published in February. The CMO Survey is directed by Dr. Christine Moorman and sponsored by Deloitte LLP, Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, the Coach K Center for Leadership and Ethics and the American Marketing Association.

The February 2022 survey results are based on responses from 320 senior marketing leaders at for-profit companies based in the United States. Over two-thirds (71.0%) of the respondents were affiliated with B2B companies, and 96.6% were VP level or above. The survey was in the field January 11 - February 7. 2022.

The CMO Survey is conducted semi-annually, and it provides a wealth of valuable information. Dr. Moorman and her colleagues typically produce three reports for each edition of the survey.

  • "The Highlights and Insights Report" - This is a relatively brief and graphically-rich report that provides mostly overall results, along with an analysis of those results and major marketing trends.
  • "The Topline Report" - This report provides response data at the aggregate level for all survey questions.
  • "The Firm and Industry Breakout Report" - This report provides response data by four primary economic sectors (B2B product companies, B2B services companies, B2C product companies and B2C services companies), fifteen industry sectors, company size and volume of internet sales. This report is quite lengthy, but it 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 survey responses, also unless otherwise indicated.

Marketer Optimism Moderates

For the past several years, The CMO Survey has asked participants about their level of optimism relating to the overall economic environment. The August 2021 edition of the survey found that the optimism of B2B marketers had returned to pre-pandemic levels. The February 2022 survey revealed that marketer optimism had moderated.

The survey asked participants to rate their level of optimism regarding the overall U.S. economy on a 100-point scale, with "0" being least optimistic and "100" being most optimistic. The following chart shows how B2B marketers rated their optimism in the five surveys conducted since February 2020.

The February 2022 survey also asked participants if they were more or less optimistic about the overall U.S. economy compared to the previous quarter. The following table shows how B2B marketers responded.

In the August 2021 survey, 31.7% of respondents from B2B product companies and 36.5% of those with B2B services companies said they were more optimistic about the U.S. economy compared to the preceding quarter.

This slight decline in marketer optimism may be connected to the state of the pandemic. The February survey was in the field January 11th through February 7th. For most of that period, many parts of the U.S were dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant of the virus, and this may have worked to temper marketer optimism.

The Continuing Commitment to Digital

The February survey confirmed that B2B marketers remain strongly committed to digital marketing. For example, respondents with B2B product companies said they are currently spending 53.2% of their total marketing budget on digital marketing activities. And respondents with B2B services companies reported devoting 60.1% of their budget to digital marketing.

The survey also showed that the growth in spending on digital marketing is still outpacing the growth of overall marketing spending. The following chart shows how overall marketing spending and spending on digital marketing changed in the twelve months preceding the survey in B2B companies.

B2B marketers expect their investment in digital marketing to continue growing. The CMO Survey asked participants to estimate how their spending on digital marketing will change in the twelve months following the survey, compared to the twelve months preceding the survey. Respondents with B2B product companies said they expect their spending on digital marketing to increase 13.6%, while respondents with B2B services companies expect an increase of 18.3%.

Ambivalence on Climate Change

For several years, marketers have been inundated by research studies purporting to prove that customers and potential buyers want and expect the companies they do business with to take actions to address environmental and social issues. I discussed a few of the more recent studies in my post about purpose marketing from earlier this year.

The February 2022 edition of The CMO Survey included several questions relating to climate change, and the responses are likely to be disappointing to those who believe business organizations should play a more active role in protecting the environment.

Among other things, the survey participants were asked about marketing's responsibilities relating to climate change, whether their company has specific goals relating to climate change, and whether they believe customers and prospects will reward their company for taking actions to reduce its impact on the environment.

The following table shows how B2B marketers responded to some of the climate change questions included in the February survey.

The survey did find that, in general, larger enterprises are more attuned to environmental issues. For example, survey respondents (B2B and B2C) with companies having $10 billion or more in annual revenue were more likely to say that:

  • Reducing climate change is part of marketing's responsibility in their company (40.0% vs. 24.0% of all respondents)
  • Their company has explicit goals related to its impact on climate change (75.0% vs. 33.7% of all respondents)
  • They have incorporated climate change issues into their brand strategy (63.2% vs. 33.0% of all respondents)

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