New Research Shows Increasing Frequency of the CMO Role

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Researchers Also Develop Framework for Classifying Variances in Marketing Leadership Positions Across Companies and Industries Based on Scientific Analysis of Job Descriptions

New research appears to indicate that, despite the volatility that sometimes surrounds the position, the role of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is being created with increasing frequency among publicly-held companies. This finding is the result of two studies conducted by Rajdeep Grewal, Professor of Marketing and Dean’s Faculty Fellow at the Pennsylvania State University, and Rui Wang, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Peking University, Beijing, China. The results are published in the current volume of The Chief Marketing Officer Journal (

The purpose of the research effort was to answer several questions about the role of heads of marketing, such as: Are all CMOs created equal?; Are there any systematic differences in the job descriptions of CMOs versus those of a vice president (VP) of marketing in firms without the CMO position?; What are the ramifications of any such differences in the role and expectations of CMOs and VPs of marketing for firms and the heads of marketing?; Is the “Chief Marketing Officer” title just glorified nomenclature for the VP Marketing?

To provide insights into these critical questions, the team systematically analyzed the text of announcements released by public firms from 33 different industries to indicate the replacement of their head of marketing – whether CMO or VP Marketing – for the period 1996–2004. Among the 180 announcements analyzed for the period, the number of firms with a CMO position increased from approximately 13.3% to 23.0%, with a clear upward trend on a year-to-year basis. “While the high-turnover rate of individuals in the CMO role continues to be troubling, assuming CEOs are rational actors, this research seems to quantitatively contradict anecdotal suggestions that marketing’s seat in the C-suite is in question”, said William L. Koleszar, Editor of The CMO Journal. “This is exactly the type of hard research and analysis that is needed to accurately assess the state of marketing leadership and foster a dialog that leads to its ongoing improvement,” continued Koleszar.

Grewal and Wang also scientifically analyzed the job descriptions of current heads of marketing (whether CMO or VP Marketing) among Fortune 100 companies, with an eye toward assessing similarities and differences across companies and industries. Their analysis points to the fact that neither CMOs, nor VPs of Marketing are created equal. Specifically, the team identified at least two kinds of CMOs: 1). Traditional CMOs, which hold global responsibilities for brand strategies, corporate communications, channel management, and customer service, among other tasks; and 2). Evolved CMOs, who are accountable not only for customers but to all organizational stakeholders, including shareholders.

The team also identified three types of VP Marketing job descriptions. In some industries, such as biotechnology or pharmaceuticals, marketing plays a secondary role as the support VP Marketing. Another type, the traditional VP Marketing, is best described as a traditional CMO with a VP Marketing title. Most VP Marketing job descriptions fall in this category. The team also found few instances of the evolved VP Marketing, who similarly are evolved CMOs with VP Marketing title.

Based on their extensive research the team concludes that the emergence of the Chief Marketing Officer position signals a change in the role of the head of marketing in the corporation, as well as a transformation in the tasks of marketing overall. “We are witnessing not only a change in the nomenclature, from VP Marketing to CMO, which accommodates the need to acknowledge the voice of the customer in the C-suite, but also a transformation in the expectations of the head of marketing and the marketing function” the authors note. How well marketers navigate this transformation may dictate if the upward trend of new CMO appointments continues, flattens, or reverses.

About the Chief Marketing Officer Journal
The CMO Journal was created to help accelerate the pace of theory development and critical discussion concerning executive leadership within the marketing discipline. It is published annually by The Chief Marketing Officer Institute and distributed exclusively by the American Marketing Association. Submissions are peer reviewed by a distinguished panel of experts and selected for inclusion in the journal based on the importance of their contribution to marketing discipline, clarity, and suitability. To learn more about The CMO Journal, please visit

About the Chief Marketing Officer Institute
Headquartered in Atlanta, the Chief Marketing Officer Institute is an industry association dedicated to serving as the premier resource for researchers and practitioners interested in the role and leadership challenges facing the CMO and other marketing executives. To learn more about The CMO Institute, access its online research library, and/or register for special announcements related to future volumes of The CMO Journal, please visit

About the American Marketing Association
The American Marketing Association (AMA) is the largest marketing association in North America. It is a professional association for individuals and organizations involved in the practice, teaching and study of marketing worldwide. It is also the source that marketers turn to every day for information/resources, education/training and professional networking. AMA members are connected to a network of experienced marketers over 30,000 strong and include leading marketing academics, researchers and practitioners from every industry. The AMA also is the source for the field’s top magazines and journals, including Marketing News, Marketing Management, Journal of Marketing and Journal of Marketing Research. For more information on the American Marketing Association please visit


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