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The CMO Survey Finds Companies Lag on Climate, Privacy Issues

The CMO Survey Finds Companies Lag on Climate, Privacy Issues

Christine Moorman and Megan Ryan

money sprouts

Surveyed marketing leaders report soaring digital marketing spending, but find that their organizations struggle with climate- and privacy-related actions

Results from the February 2022 edition of The CMO Survey examined three topics on the minds of many marketing leaders and stakeholders—climate, privacy and spending.

Managing Climate Change

Only one-third of marketers surveyed report that their companies have specific goals related to climate change. Fewer than half of marketing leaders (47.4%) believe their companies are willing to make short-term financial sacrifices to reduce their environmental impact.

Examining changes over time, we find that companies are less likely to take specific actions to reduce the negative impact of marketing-related activities on the environment than before the pandemic. In fact, nearly 40% of companies are taking no marketing climate-related actions whatsoever.

This trend may be driven, at least in part, by the fact that only 34% of marketers believe their customers or partners will reward climate-related action, and only 24.5% report that their customers are willing to pay a higher price for more climate-friendly offerings. Overall, trends regarding climate-related actions show that efforts to minimize the impact of marketing on the ecological environment have not increased for over a decade.

February 2022 The CMO Survey statistics

Managing Privacy

Marketers expect a large increase in first-party data usage over the next two years (74.8% will increase use) that far exceeds that of second-party (45.7%) and third-party data (30.5%). Furthermore, in 2018, only 11.4% of marketers predicted a decrease in their use of third-party data. This level increased to 17.7%—likely in the wake of Apple allowing its users to choose which apps can access their data and Google’s announcement that tracking cookies on the Chrome web browser will be phased out by 2023.

Despite this, marketers only rate their worries regarding privacy concerns surrounding third-party data at a moderate level—3.8 on a 1-7 scale, where 7=very worried. Notably, these privacy concerns have not meaningfully increased since 2018. This may be due, in part, to the fact that nearly two-thirds of marketers believe customers will stay with their current brand instead of switching to an alternative that offers more privacy protection. In contrast, over 90% do not believe consumers read or understand privacy disclosures. Despite this fact, marketers are still taking some actions to increase trust in their brands in the face of privacy concerns, including 63.1% promising not to sell customer information.

Marketing Spending and Jobs

Yearly growth in marketing spending is soaring. It has now broken 10% growth for only the second time in a decade and is predicted to rise even further over the next year to 13.6%, accounting for 11.7% of company budgets and 10.3% of company revenues. Considering these increases in light of the decline in marketing spending during the COVID-19 pandemic (3.9% decline reported in February 2021), offers an even more dramatic view of the spending increases.

Digital marketing spending, which currently accounts for 57.1% of marketing budgets, is growing even faster. It is expected to increase 16.2% over the same period. Results show that marketers are spending on digital innovations (e.g., data analytics, optimizing company websites, digital media and search, and marketing technologies systems and platforms) and improving their abilities to integrate customer information across platforms and channels. Furthermore, many companies are spending against the digital opportunities presented by the pandemic, including those delivering marketing technology solutions and those offering more products and services to consumers stuck at home during this period. Aligning with these opportunities, spending on data analytics grew by nearly 40 percent over the last year to become the most common investment by marketers.

Marketers’ roles increased in importance at nearly 70% of companies over the last year, including leading the digital transformation in the majority of companies. Consistent with this, companies report average marketing job growth of 12.2% in the previous year and expect marketing hires to further increase by 10.5% over the next year. The Great Resignation was top of mind for marketing leaders, with 33.3% of voluntary resignations attributed to it. As a result, many marketers are struggling to fill key roles and develop a leadership pipeline at the time they need to most.

All findings from the February 2022 edition of The CMO Survey, which is based on responses from 320 U.S. marketing leaders at for-profit companies, can be found at Sign up at to participate in future surveys.

Christine Moorman is T. Austin Finch Sr. Professor of Business Administration, Duke University, USA, and Founder and Director, The CMO Survey.

Megan Ryan is a second-year MBA student at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, concentrating in marketing and strategy.