How Restaurant CMOs Are Adapting to Emerging Tech, Media Channels – Restaurant Dive

To stay competitive in an age of hyper-convenience, savvy customers and social media dominance, these executives are marrying marketing with IT.

One glance at restaurant coverage throughout the past decade shows just how quickly the industry has changed. The pace of this transformation is the product of a perfect storm of change — emerging technologies, new media channels, savvier customers and busier consumer schedules. 

These trends are forging a new era of hyper-convenience that has blurred the lines of foodservice. Specific segments are no longer easily defined. Major companies like McDonald’s can count convenience store chains, meal kits, groceraunts and restaurants with third-party delivery partners among their competitive set.

These competitive forces have added another layer of pressure to the executive tasked with keeping up with the marketplace — the chief marketing officer.

As Richard Sanderson, co-leader of marketing officers practice of Russell Reynolds, said recently in Forbes, “The days of the brand-oriented, marketing communications-focused, creative-led CMO are waning. CMOs are now required to demonstrate balance of left brain and right brain skills. They are expected to play a leadership role in data analytics, customization, personalization and optimization and to drive highly targeted, sophisticated, complex, digital-led campaigns and activities.” 

With such pressures come notoriously short tenures. According to consulting firm SpencerStuart, the average CMO tenure in 2017 was 44 months. The average CMO tenure is the lowest of all c-suite titles, with turnover caused by job loss due to perceived underperformance or departure due to frustration.  

That frustration can be compounded in the competitive $800 billion restaurant industry, where brands are fighting tooth and nail over every disposable dollar. But turnover can pose big issues, as Jack in the Box has recently learned. The QSR chain has been without a CMO since August, when Iwona Alter left after less than two years. In today’s climate, this loss is especially dangerous — without a focus on marketing, restaurant chains could struggle to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving space.

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