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Digital Transformation Artificial Intelligence Marketing

The Drum Live: ‘Science fiction is now science fact’ and CMOs need to be prepared


By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

September 27, 2023 | 5 min read

A panel of experts predict that the CMOs of the future will need to be futurists to keep up with the hyper-targeted needs of different demographics – but warn they shouldn’t forget their loyal customers.


Trends often move faster than marketers can / Unsplash

Hamza Ayub, chief marketing officer for Switzerland at Dunkin’ Donuts says: “In a world where science fiction is about to become science fact, we can’t talk about the next generations, Gen Z and Gen Alpha but what comes 10 years after them. We’re also looking at the dawn of a whole new species with AI.”

Gone are the days of putting out two campaigns a year, he says. “Now we’re looking at uploading three to five times a day on five or six different platforms – and it’s only going to get worse.”

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For smaller companies with lower budgets, he says this will be a challenge: “Because it’s going to require a level of hyper-targeting. It’s not enough to just target a kid from India, or the US, it’s about targeting a Minecraft kid versus a Fortnite kid. There’s niches within niches.”

But Penny Brook, chief marketing and experience officer at Canada Goose, warns that marketers can’t ostracize their loyal customers. “Of course, Gen Zs are super important. But so are millennials and so are baby boomers and they’re all still buying.

“Depending on what your brand is and who you’re targeting, I would say to really remember not to forget your loyal customer base as you will also have customers with different rates of consumption, acceptance and user behavior.”

She adds that the days of simply onboarding customers is over: “Now it’s about bringing your customer in and taking care of them while they’re in your house – whether that’s a digital house or a bricks and mortar – and making sure they have that continuous, distinct experience of the brand.”

As a result, she says it’s important that the future’s CMOs: “Don’t sit in ivory towers.”

“The one thing I don’t want to do is distract myself from how we make the customer feel,” Brook continues. “And different consumers will have that feeling by addressing them in different ways because they’re at different stages of consumption and indeed in different parts of the world.”

Erifili Gounari is the founder and CEO of Z Link, an agency that speaks specifically to Gen Z, and she agrees that the CMOs of tomorrow will need to be agile if they are to keep up with the speed at which trends move, but warns: “There is an increasing expectation of CMOs from agencies that they move faster than their companies have capacity for.

“It’s a big problem for agencies when we have all these ideas for content that would work great for a brand, that are truly reactive and need actioned today or tomorrow and for bigger brands with bigger legal departments and longer approval processes that’s often undoable.”

Ayub posits the solution would be to future-proof the CMO role by keeping the role itself hyper-focused. “In the future you might have CMOs for different platforms, a CMO specifically for Gen Z or Gen Alpha and a CMO for your AI-based strategy.”

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