Source: “The CMO Survey” (Christine Moorman, 2023)(This month’s Research Round-Up is devoted entirely to the Fall 2023 edition of “The CMO Survey.” This research has been conducted semi-annually since 2008 and consistently provides a wealth of valuable information about marketing trends, spending, and practices.)
The findings of the Fall 2023 edition of “The CMO Survey” were released in late September. “The CMO Survey” is directed by Dr. Christine Moorman and is sponsored by Deloitte LLP, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association.
The Fall 2023 survey results are based on responses from 316 senior marketing leaders at for-profit companies based in the United States. Over two-thirds of the respondents (67.7%) were affiliated with B2B companies, and 95.6% were VP-level or above. The survey was in the field July 26 – August 17, 2023.
Dr. Moorman and her colleagues typically produce three reports for each U.S. edition of the survey.
“Highlights and Insights Report” – This is a relatively brief and graphically rich report that provides mostly overall survey results and analyzes those results and major marketing trends.
“Topline Report” – This report provides response data at the aggregate level for all survey questions.
“Firm and Industry Breakout Report” – This report provides response data by four economic sectors (B2B product companies, B2B services companies, B2C product companies, and B2C services companies), 15 industry verticals, company size, and percentage of online sales. This report is 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 applicable survey responses, also unless otherwise indicated.
Marketers Are More Optimistic About the Economy
For the past several years, “The CMO Survey” has asked participants for their views on economic conditions, and the Fall 2023 edition of the survey was no exception. It asked participants to rate their level of optimism regarding the overall U.S. economy on a 100-point scale, with “0” being the least optimistic, and “100” being the most optimistic.
The following chart shows how B2B marketers rated their optimism in the six surveys conducted over the past three years.
As this chart shows, B2B marketer optimism is at its highest level since the February 2022 survey, and B2B marketers are significantly more optimistic now than they were in the two preceding surveys (Spring 2023 and September 2022).
The Fall 2023 survey also asked participants if they were more or less optimistic about the U.S. economy compared to the previous quarter. The following table shows how B2B marketers responded.
The results in this table also indicate that B2B marketers have become more optimistic since last spring. In the Fall 2023 survey, 46.4% of respondents with B2B product companies and 47.1% of respondents with B2B services companies said they were more optimistic compared to the previous quarter. In the Spring 2023 survey, only 32.0% of the respondents with B2B product companies, and 24.7% with B2B services companies reported being more optimistic.
Anemic Growth in Marketing Spending
The increased optimism regarding economic conditions has not produced a substantial increase in marketing spending . . . at least not yet. In fact, the survey shows that the growth of marketing spending has been anemic for more than a year.
For the past several years, the survey has asked participants by what percent their marketing spending changed in the preceding 12 months. The following chart shows how B2B survey respondents answered these questions in the six surveys conducted over the past three years.
B2B marketers are relatively optimistic about the growth of marketing spending over the coming year. In the Fall 2023 survey, respondents with B2B product companies said they expect overall marketing spending to increase 6.8% over the 12 months following the survey, and those with B2B services companies expect a 6.6% increase over the same period.
Unfortunately, spending growth predictions by respondents to “The CMO Survey” have not been particularly accurate in the past. For example, in the September 2022 survey, respondents (B2B and B2C) predicted that marketing spending would increase by 8.8% over the following 12 months. In the Fall 2023 survey, respondents reported that their marketing spending had increased by only 2.6% over the preceding 12 months.
The Fall 2023 edition of “The CMO Survey” includes data regarding several other topics, and, like earlier editions, it provides a wealth of valuable insights for B2B marketers. I encourage you to read the full survey report.