CMO and marketing leaders

Latest findings from PwC’s Pulse Survey

Keeping up with the changing customer and company

The current volatile economy weighs on both consumers and companies, and CMOs are under pressure to deliver positive outcomes for both. According to our latest PwC Pulse Survey, 88% of CMOs agree that their purview has become more complex in the past two years. One of their main challenges is keeping up with changing consumer demand in an environment of high inflation. To that end, CMOs should innovate and create personalized experiences for customers. 

Achieving these goals in a way that provides a return on investment and aligns with the company's mission and purpose is no easy task. Marketers can lean on data and technology, but as budgets tighten they should be more deliberate with their investments and evaluate them more frequently. As brand trust becomes increasingly important, CMOs should look beyond capabilities and begin focusing on values alignment to attract and retain customers.


CMOs focus on personalization to drive customer loyalty as inflation soars.


of CMOs said they’re effectively focusing on customer personalization

CMOs respond to shifting consumer expectations

With a potential recession on the horizon, competition for customers among brands is intensifying. Many companies have already passed on price increases to consumers and are now looking to ways to differentiate their products and services to get customers to stick with them. Consumers are reacting to higher prices in multiple ways. Some still have money saved from the pandemic and are trying to decide where to spend that money. Others are starting to substitute lower quality items as they see their paychecks get stretched. 

Either way, in the current environment, it’s much harder for companies to compete on price alone. To retain customers, CMOs are looking to drive brand loyalty by delivering a better experience. According to PwC’s Customer Loyalty Survey, one of their top preferences is “rewards my way” in a loyalty program, and 82% of consumers are willing to share personal data (e.g., birthday and age) in exchange for a more personalized experience. In our current Pulse Survey, an impressive 89% of CMOs tell us they’re effectively focusing on customer personalization.

Coming regulatory changes related to privacy and customer data are poised to make the CMO’s mission to deliver personalization more challenging. Increasingly, consumers are either required to explicitly opt in to share their data or they can opt out of their data being sold or used for targeted ads. Despite this, respondents believe their companies are prepared, with 89% saying their company is ready for a cookieless world.

What you can do 

  • Coordinate with other C-suite members as you rethink your customer strategy and build technology solutions to help you unify around customer needs. Take into consideration the entire consumer picture, along with future compliance requirements.
  • Refine your first-party data strategy and examine your customer loyalty programs to make sure you’re giving customers what they want most.

Martech investments

As your marketing objectives evolve, make sure you have the right technology to support them.


of CMOs say they’re investing in marketing technology and automation as a result of the current market environment

CMOs shy away from tech investments in the current market

In today’s environment, technology underpins every aspect of marketing. The right investments can improve the overall customer experience, boost agility and drive business growth. That being said, it’s surprising that only 45% of CMOs say they’re investing in marketing technology and automation, and just over half (53%) are offering training for marketing employees on new technology.

The lack of technology investment may be due to tightening budgets and previous investments. Almost half (47%) of CMOs strongly agree that their marketing budget will likely be cut before other departments. At the same time, many marketing departments made investments over the past few years and have yet to fully realize the benefits of that spending. What’s gotten in the way? Probably a combination of bad, or missing, data along with marketers not having sufficient training on new technologies. In some cases, companies made investments with overlapping technology, which led to inefficiencies and confusion.

An investment in the right technology combined with company-wide adoption and appropriate training for marketing staff has the potential to help pay for itself in the right circumstances. CMOs can make better decisions when they have access to better insights. Marketers can leverage data to measure return on investment (ROI) on their marketing campaigns and to help them improve agency spend. But for this to work, you have to bring all of the relevant data together from disparate systems, and your marketers need the right skills to effectively analyze marketing activities and make changes where needed.

What you can do 

  • Take a deliberate approach to marketing technology (martech) investments and be prepared to show return on investment.
  • Train your marketers so that they can take advantage of the full capabilities of new technology solutions. These insights will help them make smart decisions.
  • Undertake technology assessments and rationalizations more frequently to confirm that you’re improving every dollar spent from your budget. Look for areas where overlapping technologies are causing inefficiencies and move to one solution wherever it makes sense.
  • Use advanced tools that facilitate real-time analysis and immediate insights to help you improve your marketing spend.


CMOs are at the forefront of telling a company’s ESG story.


of CMOs are increasing communications about the company's purpose/values to the marketplace

CMOs play an important ESG role

Some companies see ESG as a compliance requirement, but consumers have greater expectations. Brands that can make ESG a core part of their mission might find themselves at an advantage with these consumers. While CEOs set the tone and the company’s purpose, CMOs are typically at the forefront of how a company communicates these messages as a core part of their brand proposition. To maintain trust with consumers, marketing leaders should uphold these values as they engage with customers. 

Consumers look well beyond price in deciding how they spend their money. In fact, PwC’s 2023 Holiday Outlook found that a remarkable 93% of consumers will have brand trust in mind as they do their holiday shopping this year. They’re interested in buying from relatable brands that reflect their own values of sustainability and purpose. This means tying your brand messaging to your company’s ESG commitments and providing transparent communications.  

CMOs are responding in various ways including increasing communications about their company’s purpose/values to the marketplace (42% somewhat, 48% to a great extent), refining how their company tells its ESG story (33% somewhat, 56% to a great extent), crafting responses to social or political issues and revisiting purpose and/or values statements (48% somewhat, 40% to a great extent). 

What you can do

  • Work closely with the CEO and other C-suite colleagues around your company’s value and ESG story. Confirm the story is supported across the C-suite and communicated clearly both throughout the organization and to stakeholders outside of the company.
  • Continue to assess and refine how your company communicates its values. Consumers want to know what you stand for, especially when prices are going up. For example, 60% of millennials and Gen Z rely on social media to learn about your company’s ESG efforts.


About the survey

Our latest PwC Pulse Survey, fielded October 12 to October 18, 2022, surveyed 657 executives and board members from public and private companies about the current business environment, the risks executives are facing and the impact those risks have on company strategy and growth plans. Of the respondent pool, 73 are marketing leaders.

Contact us

Jon Glick

Jon Glick

Principal, Customer Transformation and Loyalty, PwC US

Samrat Sharma

Samrat Sharma

Marketing Transformation Leader, PwC US

CJ Bangah

CJ Bangah

Principal, TMT Customer Transformation Consulting, PwC US

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