Investment on the up as Asia Pacific Marketers Bank on a Data Dividend Says Dentsu 2018 CMO Survey

Dentsu has released its CMO Survey for 2018, a global query of 1,000 Chief Marketing Officers and senior level marketers across 10 countries – including Australia, China, and Japan in the Asia Pacific.

This year’s survey has revealed that marketing investment is on an upward curve, as marketing’s role as the primary ‘growth antennae’ for organizations is being strengthened by the use of data.


“CMOs are in a unique position to turn consumer insight into the next commercial opportunity and new sources of revenue,” said the report that found six in 10 marketers globally expect marketing budgets to rise in the next 12 months.

The reported noted that the marketing budget increases among larger corporates particularly stand out – with 43% of respondents planning for increases of 5% or more, and just one in 20 expecting to see budgets fall. Confidence is highest among technology, automotive and financial services CMOs.

Nigel Morris, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, expressed his own optimism looking forward for CMO’s globally.

“My own view is that there has never been a more exciting time to be a marketer. Despite some of the more negative headlines, marketing works. But it just works differently from before.”


The differences Morris refers to in the opening of the report are the growth and variety of new channels, the need for “a two-way, continuous dialogue with consumers,” and the increasing volume of consumer data.

Asia Pacific Disparities

Amongst the countries surveyed, Dentsu found the strongest disparities in Asia Pacific: Japan (35%) displayed the lowest confidence in an increase in marketing budget while China (75%) showed the highest confidence.

“There’s a clear shift, as senior marketers adapt to a digital economy characterized by customer-led demand and an appetite for delivering a superior customer experience for their businesses,” said Arvind Sethumadhavan, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific. “CMOs are aware of the need to embrace digital transformation that orientates around a deep understanding of customers to deliver business growth.

“In Asia Pacific, we particularly see the opportunity for marketers to leverage data to secure long-term customer relationships,” added Sethumadhavan. “The diversity of the region is another factor that increases the need for Asia Pacific CMOs to ensure they are able to deliver a consistent brand narrative targeting real people. This has strong potential to transform marketing’s role as the architect of a business’ long-term vision.”

The survey also suggests CMOs are facing significant challenges as they attempt to balance the opportunity to build new capabilities and enhance their role, with the risks and challenges driven by data and the digital economy.

Other Highlights

According to Dentsu:

Opportunities in data tempered with caution

The evolution of marketing data towards real people, building on digital proxies or broad customer segment data, is identified as the number one strategic opportunity for CMOs over the next two to three years, with 80% of CMOs also recognizing its importance to effective customer engagement.

However, the findings also reveal a substantial degree of caution. Suffering a data breach is now the leading strategic risk identified, while a high proportion of respondents in Australia (63%) compared to China (53%) and Japan (47%), believe that data protection legislation such as GDPR will make it harder to build direct relationships with consumers.

Digital commerce shaping how marketers approach partners and suppliers

Investment is expected to rise, but the survey reveals changing priorities, reflecting the increased focus data as an enabler of growth. Investment in digital media, in-housing of marketing capability and a growing role for specialists are all high on the investment agenda.

 Innovation being over-looked?

Just over one-third of CMOs identify “leading disruptive innovation” as one of their core functional priorities. China CMOs (35%) lead the rankings amongst Asia Pacific CMOs, while Australia (32%) and Japan (31%) are closer in their perception of this functional priority.

You can download the report here.


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