Every so often, a managerial trend appears. A new name for a new position – which habitually vampirizes the functions of another existing manager on the organization chart – becomes the trend, what leading brands seem to be doing. In this struggle to maintain positions and in this constant threat to the new, the chief marketing officer is a constant protagonist.
In the last decade, new profiles of managers have appeared that combined capacities and strengths and that displaced their position of reference. The CMO was becoming obsolete, it was said, and the new profile had to take its place with a much more transversal or newer or more digital power (according to each moment).
So far, none of those new positions have made CMOs disappear (they have been eliminated in some large companies), but perhaps the new fashion manager who does. The latest profile to catch on is that of the chief consumer officer.
This manager, also known as the chief customer officer, it all depends on which English who names him uses, he is part of the C-suite and his main task is to care about the consumer.
It is your advocate, the one who works so that the experiences you receive are the best and so that you are happy with the brand and its products and stay with it. For some companies, their role is crucial and makes marketing one more leg of what to do, cannibalizing their functions and ousting the CMO from the board.
The Under Armor case
The latest company to appoint a chief consumer officer is Under Armor. The company has appointed Massimo Baratto, until now EMEA Brand Director, to that role. Their duties speak volumes about what is expected of these managers. He will have responsibility for the brand’s global marketing, ecommerce and retail presence, but will also focus on controlling “consumer strategy, offering a consistent and flawless brand experience.”
The company’s CMO will disappear: Alessandro de Pestel, who played that role, will leave the company in February. There will be no new CMO because their functions will be filled by the new manager. As they explain in Marketing Dive, the move is much more crucial when you consider that the fashion brand is looking for a way to become profitable again.
What does this movement imply
Is this change symptomatic of a much larger movement in the market, of a movement of tectonic plates in how things are or will be? In general, companies increasingly have experience managers . The big question now is whether those experience managers will gain power and displace the marketing manager or usurp his role.
The debate on whether the CMO is losing weight in companies is by no means new, one could almost say that it repeats itself on a cyclical basis. The new profiles also usually arrive with a surname linked to something fashionable. A few years ago they were chief growth officers. There were also newly minted profiles that brought technology and marketing together, almost looking like hybrids between the CTO and the CMO.
All this makes them seem especially attractive for companies, who believe that with this change they will be able to solve the problems that the new challenges of digitization or consumption of the 21st century are creating. They don’t always work: Coca-Cola ended up having a CMO again in 2019 after eliminating him.