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What can global CMOs learn from China’s population decline?

By Edward Grice | Head of EMEA



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February 16, 2023 | 5 min read

Among macroeconomic pressures, one thing is abundantly clear: globalization is more pertinent than ever for brands – Ed Grice of PMG looks to China as proof.

Pedestrians in China

The response to China’s recent population decline points to the increasing challenges of global commerce. / Joshua Fernandez via Unsplash

Recent news of China’s first population decline in decades shook the business world. The fact that it did signals just how interconnected global commerce has become.

Global brands today not only have to deal with localizing their products and messaging but also navigating how events and trends in one locality or region impact their overall efforts to scale into new markets.

Marketing under pressure

While global brands face many challenges, it is the current macroeconomic environment that is the most pressing. Market volatility creates currency fluctuations and local economic pressures that influence consumer spending, price sensitivity, and purchase behaviors – all of which brands must carefully navigate.

Consumer privacy also poses a unique, ongoing challenge. Protecting consumer privacy only becomes more complex for global brands that must follow consumer privacy laws and regulations across various regions, creating a patchwork of internal data compliance processes and procedures. However, these challenges also present opportunities for brands that are proactively adapting and reshaping their business and media strategies in response to emerging economic pressures and industry trends.

With marketing plans and budgets under greater scrutiny, countless brand marketers will have to do more with less, which has created a demand for accountable full-funnel marketing strategies that drive performance and growth.

Of course, this leads to a knock-on effect on brand budgets, and those that pull back will effectively jeopardize their ability to differentiate and attract and retain customers in the months ahead, impacting all future brand strategy and media investments.

During these moments of heightened volatility, the brands that will ultimately prevail are the ones best able to protect as much marketing budget as possible (and deliver the greatest returns).

Transforming volatility into opportunity

The chief marketing officers (CMOs) and global brand marketing executives that take a longer-term view will stand to benefit, by remaining at the ready when economic conditions and recovery happen in waves across the world.

CMOs under pressure to deliver growth and performance should use this time to implement data, insights, and strategy-driven approaches that take advantage of where advertising is going; to test new advancements and industry innovations, and to make their brands resilient, rather than risk-averse.

Those who fall into a short-term mindset by taking smaller bets will be leaving opportunities on the table and likely struggle to keep pace with industry evolution.

This isn’t the time to adopt slower planning cycles, an over-reliance on every single data point, or a mindset where new opportunities must be de-risked. Streaming. Social commerce. Privacy. Media and platform evolution. You can’t push pause on industry evolution, but you can make smart, data-driven investments in its future. It’s a time to lean into where advertising, commerce and consumer behavior are heading.

Think long-term: culture & learning

While short-term planning and data-backed decision-making are musts, navigating the global economy requires a longer-term perspective and the ability to strategically balance incremental gains with the monumental opportunities that will come about in 2023.

If you truly want to de-risk your marketing plan, adopt a learning agenda, and help establish an organizational culture of encouragement and exploration. Push your global marketing teams and media partners to explore new ideas and lead with innovation.

There’s incredible value in nurturing new opportunities and adopting a more ambitious approach to digital marketing, helping to deliver business growth and capitalize when innovative opportunities arise.

Agencies Brand Safety Business Leadership

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PMG is a global independent digital company that seeks to inspire people and brands that anything is possible. Driven by shared success, PMG uses strategy, creative, media, and insights, as well as its proprietary marketing intelligence platform Alli, to deliver Digital Made for Humans™. Our team is made up of over 900 employees globally, and our work for brands like Apple, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Dave & Buster's, Experian, Kohler, Nike, Sephora, and Shake Shack runs across 85+ countries and has received top industry recognition from Cannes Lions to Adweek Media Plan of the Year. Ranked by Deloitte, Inc., Entrepreneur, and Adweek as one of the fastest-growing companies in the nation, PMG has grown because of its commitment to continuous improvement, business integrity, cultivating dynamic relationships, and putting people first. Named 9X Ad Age's Best Places to Work, 5X Best Places for Working Parents, Fortune's Best Workplaces for Women and 2X Fast Company's Best Workplaces for Innovators, PMG has also been named to Ad Age's Agency A-List, Adweek's Breakthrough Media Agency of the Year and 2X MediaPost's Independent Agency of the Year.

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