Chief marketing officers will have to ‘grow or go’ as Fortune 100 companies switch to ‘chief growth officer’ roles

Pallets of Coke-Cola cans wait to the filled at a Coco-Cola bottling plant on February 10, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
George Frey | Getty Images

When Coca-Cola consolidated marketing into a new "chief growth officer" (CGO) role in March, it followed previous Fortune 100 companies in doing so — Hershey's announced Mary Beth West had joined as CGO earlier that month, while Kellogg gave the same job title to Clive Sirkin in 2015.

According to consultancy Forrester, this is a trend that will continue next year. "In 2018, we expect CMOs to fall under even more pressure to drive growth — or step aside while someone else takes the reins," its "Predictions 2018" report states.

The new CGO roles will include marketing, strategy and commercial responsibility, with Forrester suggesting eight more Fortune 100 companies will appoint such positions in 2018. It predicts that CMOs will "grow or go" in the coming year, with chief executives expected to put marketers under pressure to reduce advertising spend.

Coke's Quincey: Need to look at core underlying business for growth
Coke's Quincey: Need to look at core underlying business for growth

One of the world's largest advertisers, Procter and Gamble, has already slashed its ad budget and reduced the number of marketing and media agencies it works with by 50 percent.

Meanwhile, marketing technology (sometimes called martech) will benefit from more investment from these new growth executives, Forrester suggests.

"Customer experience" will be more of a focus than marketing, in part driven by new technology that can manage relationships with people. Such technology can automatically email or text a customer when an item is back in stock, or remind someone that they have items in their online shopping cart but haven't yet checked out.

"At some firms, the CFO will gleefully call their CMO peer to give the budget back, but with the CEO demanding a solution to drive growth, these dollars will find a new purpose: more budget for customer experience (CX) improvements," Forrester states, adding that martech budgets will grow by double digits.

Forrester warns that marketers will need to take responsibility for managing a customer's experience of a brand; otherwise someone else in the C-suite, such as a digital officer or customer officer, will do so.