CMOs Go Slow: Marketing Budgets Are Down, But Should Recover Next Year

Marketing budgets have dropped, including spending on branding. But marketers are bullish about the year to come, and are showing a healthy interest in artificial intelligence, judging by The CMO Survey, Managing AI, Digital Strategies, and DE&I in Marketing, a study from Deloitte LLP, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association. 

Of the companies polled, 45.1% indicate that inflationary pressures are decreasing their marketing spend. Another 37.8% say that has not happened, but only 17% claim their budgets have increased. 

But 49% are more optimistic about the economy than they were this time last year, although 22.8% are less so. And they anticipate higher spending next year for an overall 7.2% increase. 

“Despite inflation hitting marketing spending this past year, CMOs seem to be more optimistic about the coming year, buoyed by stronger financial, customer and brand performance,” says study author Christine Moorman of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.



However, there was a 43% drop in brand-building investments -- a “dramatic” falloff, Moorman says, adding: “One reason for this may be that marketers report a similar level increase in brand value, suggesting investments may be softened to ensure their ROI.” 

One area that has taken a hit is diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Marketing spending in this area fell by 10.7% YoY, and is showing a modest 2.3% annual growth. Also, fewer than 50% expect DEI to be a priority over the next few years. 

Why? Because DEI has a weak impact on stock returns, sales, customer retention and acquisition and employee attraction and retention, the study states.

Moorman explains that companies “have not yet established a process to review and/or evaluate marketing decisions from a DEI perspective.”

Meanwhile, 60.4% have started integrated AI into their processes over the last 12 months, and 94.1% have done so over the past three years. They are using AI for:  

  • Blogs — 64.7% 
  • Website content other than blogs — 62.2% 
  • Social media — 54.6% 
  • Email — 54.6%
  • Ad copy — 41.2% 
  • Product or service descriptions — 39.5% 
  • Sales copy — 34.5%
  • News stories — 26.1% 
  • Customer service content — 19.3% 
  • Ad design — 13.4% 
  • Technical copy — 10.9%
  • Logo design — 5.0% 
  • Augmented reality — 2.5%
  • Virtual reality — 1.7%
  • Packaging design — 0.8%
  • Game design — 0.0%

The CMO Survey polled 316 senior marketers from July 26-August 17, 2023. 


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