DURHAM, N.C. — Top marketing officers at U.S. companies plan significant hiring increases over the next two years as they remain optimistic about prospects for their firms and the U.S. economy, a new survey has found.
The February 2010 CMO Survey is a nationwide poll of chief marketing officers conducted twice each year by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in conjunction with the American Marketing Association. The survey collected responses from 612 marketing executives during the last two weeks of January.
Nearly half of companies say they expect to hire new marketers during the next six months, while 60 percent will do so in the next year and almost 90 percent over the next two years.
Firms plan to increase hiring levels by 8 percent in the next six months, 13 percent during the next year, and 24 percent over the next two years.
Experienced marketers with skills related to Internet marketing, innovation and growth, and customer relationship and brand management will be the most sought after by survey respondents.
“Marketing hiring has been flat in recent years,” said Fuqua professor Christine Moorman, director of the survey. “This is an especially welcome sign of a return to better days in the marketing community.”
The biggest increase in marketing hiring is expected among business-to-business (B2B) product companies, while B2B services companies predict the smallest hiring growth. Consistent with this, B2B services marketers report the highest expected increase in outsourced marketing activities.
“B2B services companies also report that Internet marketing skills are particularly important to them at this time, which may explain their focus on outsourcing to established companies instead of hiring in-house staff,” Moorman said.
Overall optimism among marketers continues to grow, with 62 percent reporting their optimism about the U.S. economy has increased since last quarter, and nearly 64 percent feeling more optimistic about their own companies than they did last quarter. By contrast, in the August 2009 survey, marketers felt upbeat about the economy (59 percent) but less so about their own companies (48.2 percent).
“Marketers are beginning to see the signs of a rebound within their own companies,” Moorman said. “It’s no longer in the tea leaves; it’s showing up at their own cash registers. This is the strongest sign we have seen yet.”
This optimism is also reflected in respondents’ expectations for customer behavior, with 66 percent of firms anticipating increased volume in customer purchases, and 26 percent expecting higher prices. Nearly half of firms (47 percent) also expect an increase in the number of new customers in their markets, and 45 percent believe they have improved their abilities to retain current customers.
Overall, marketing budgets are expected to rise by 6 percent, the largest expected increase in a year. Internet marketing expenditures will account for the largest share of this increase, while traditional advertising will continue to drop off. Moorman points out that spending on brand and customer management – “the blocking and tackling of marketing” – continues to rise. “Without customer and brand, it’s hard to survive long,” she said.
Social media continues to emerge as a central component of Internet marketing strategies. Firms currently allocate 6 percent of their marketing budgets to social media, an allotment they expect to increase to 10 percent during the next year and 18 percent over the next five years.
B2B services companies report the largest planned increases in social media spending, from 7 to 11 percent of overall marketing budgets, over the next year. This trails similar increases already made by business-to-consumer services companies, which increased social media spending from 3 to 7 percent between August 2009 and February 2010.
“Even though many are still experimenting and learning how best to use social media tools, these results indicate that marketers think social media marketing is here to stay and will play an increasingly important role in their work in acquiring and retaining customers in the future,” Moorman said.
Survey respondents were also asked to recognize companies they consider to be marketing leaders that set the standard for excellence across all industries. Apple, Procter & Gamble and The Coca-Cola Co. were the top vote-getters, and will receive the “CMO Survey Award for Marketing Excellence.” P&G and Apple have won the award three times and The Coca-Cola Co. twice.
“These three companies are perennial favorites among survey respondents,” Moorman said. “Each has demonstrated a keen balance of proven marketing programs with a sophisticated approach to the adoption of social media and other new developments, and provide us all with opportunities to learn from their successes.”
Other findings of the survey include:
— Marketing channels show a similar economic rebound, with partners expected to increase level and range of products and services as well as prices paid.
— Companies plan to increase market research and intelligence activities by 7 percent, indicating firms are investing in activities to identify new growth opportunities especially those involving diversified growth.
— 72 percent of firms currently outsource some aspect of their marketing programs, and 41 percent expect to increase outsourcing over the next year.
Detailed results, including tabular summaries of results and results by firm and industry characteristics, are available at www.cmosurvey.org.
About the survey: The CMO Survey collects and disseminates the opinions of top marketers in order to predict the future of markets, track marketing excellence and improve the value of marketing in firms and in society. Founded in August 2008, the survey is administered twice each year, with questions repeated over time to discern trends. The next survey will be in August.