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McKinsey on winning in the ‘next normal’: 3 elements to fuel growth

By Brian Gregg, Senior partner

July 16, 2021 | 5 min read

Want to know what the top 7% companies do well? McKinsey partner Brian Gregg explains what chief marketers must do to win and how to complete a growth triple play.


By drawing on the full power of the growth triple play, chief marketers can boost their chances of success

The global pandemic has forced both consumers and businesses to embrace new ways of working, connecting and engaging. Homebound consumers abandoned deep-seated shopping habits overnight, hurtling e-commerce into hyperdrive and squeezing a decade’s worth of digital adoption into 100 days.

Brands responded swiftly to a flood of new online customers, while facing record levels of brand switching as 75% of consumers tried new shopping habits. Since Covid-19 began, 40% of them even ditched trusted brands for new ones, mainly gen Z and millennials searching for products that reflect their values. These newly-cemented habits are sticking.

This has left chief marketers and marketing leaders asking: ‘What does the future look like, and what growth levers can I pull?’ For many, it’s a moment to reset and reframe their growth strategy as 78% of chief execs are now banking on chief marketers and marketing to drive growth. Our new chief experience officer growth survey of nearly 900 executives reveals that companies that are outgrowing their peers by 2.3 times are doubling down on creativity, analytics and purpose – the growth triple play. Here are three ways to bring these core elements to life and accelerate growth.

The growth triple play

Companies that integrate creativity, analytics and purpose are dramatically surpassing the average growth rates of their peers. Not only are these ‘triple play companies’ doubling the growth rate of their peers, but their revenue growth has shot up to more than 12% during the pandemic.

But executing the growth triple play is no simple task. Right now, only 7% of companies have shown that they can do this. Chief marketers and marketing leaders can take a page from their playbook to drive outsized growth.

Here is what the ‘7%’ companies do well:

  1. Create a 360° view of their customers. By infusing creativity with real-time analytics, they’re bolstering personalized experiences based on demographics, attitudes and context while delivering customized content.

  2. Deploy analytics with purpose to deliver the ‘wow factor’ for customers. They do this by sharing critical insights across the organization to drive faster decision-making and agile innovation.

  3. Integrate purpose with creativity and analytics. It’s a part of their organizational DNA that enables them to assess growth opportunities in a sustainable and inclusive manner.

How chief marketers can win in the next normal

Chief marketers and marketing leaders now have the unique opportunity to steer the growth agenda by employing the full growth triple play across all marketing activities. This requires chief marketers to:

  • Lead from the front as a unifier. Successfully executing the growth triple play depends on establishing trust. Chief marketers need to climb into the cockpit as co-pilots and help chief execs navigate. Plus chief marketers and marketing leaders must forge unbreakable bonds across the C-suite to drive growth while bringing their network and ecosystem of partners along on the journey.

  • Inspire better outcomes with purpose. Chief marketers need to rally stakeholders and shape the portfolio with purpose. A clear, consistent purpose serves as a beacon to all stakeholders and shows that the company knows what it stands for. Employees draw on that sense of purpose to set priorities; investors, to better understand the strategic vision; and customers, to see how closely brands align with their values.

  • Operationalize the triple play. Only companies that develop the necessary capabilities can successfully integrate creativity, analytics and purpose to reap the rewards. Build a suite of ‘growth enablers’ to allocate your resources by the week, day and hour, boosting the corporate tempo to make rapid-fire decisions.

Make purpose your North Star

Only purpose can amplify the power of creativity and analytics to strike a deep, emotional and lasting relationship with your customers. Let it guide your business by setting the overall direction and ensuring every product or service reflects your brand identity and mission.

Customers care as much, if not more, about what you stand for as what you sell. They’re searching for brands that share their values – and if yours doesn’t, a competitor is just a click away.

By drawing on the full power of the growth triple play, chief marketers can boost their chances of success and mark the start of a new era with marketing at the heart of decision-making.

Brian Gregg is senior partner at McKinsey & Company.

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