What Are Brand Marketers’ Top Challenges in 2019?

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In recent weeks, poor performances on the stock market, particularly among tech stocks, have been the topic of much discussion in business news. This general malaise may also be affecting brand marketers, as growth in a slow economy has been cited as the number one industry challenge. That’s according to a recent WARC report [download page, sample report], based on data from nearly 800 individuals who shared their marketing priorities for 2019.

Increasing sales has always been a key responsibility for marketing, with separate research showing that nearly two-thirds (63%) of CMOs named driving revenue growth as the primary role of the marketing function. But given the other options on WARC’s list (respondents could choose up to three), it could indicate that brand marketers have a degree of concern going into 2019.

Building a purposeful brand was also another top challenge, selected by 13% share of respondents. Being a brand with purpose has its payoff. Research has found 8 in 10 American consumers aged 20 and older saying they would be more loyal to purpose-driven companies, with 77% noting they feel a stronger emotional connection to purpose-driven companies.

Other top challenges for brand marketers include big data management (13% share), building a culture of marketing effectiveness (13%) and ensuring customer trust (10%).
Beyond challenges for 2019, the WARC study goes into a number of different areas. A few of them are below.

Are Marketers Ready for Voice Search?

WARC reports that some 4 in 10 of the marketers surveyed state they are prepared for voice-optimized search. This bodes well, given the growing number of consumers that are using voice in their daily activities.

Well over half (58%) of US adults have used voice search to find information on a local business, with 56% of those individuals using smartphones to perform their voice search. Another 18% are using Smart Speakers.

With 1 in 3 of US adults (32%) owning a smart speaker (as of August 2018), voice search is clearly becoming a growing channel through which to reach buyers.

The Trend Toward In-Housing Continues

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has reported that, of the client-side marketing members, 78% had an in-house agency in 2018.

WARC’s study confirms that this trend towards in-house agencies will continue into 2019, most significantly in the US. However, it is worth noting that CMOs have acknowledged that brands are still relying on external agencies for big brand ideas.

Other Survey Highlights


Here are a few other insights that came from the summary that connect with findings previously featured on MarketingCharts:

The Warc report can be found here.

About the Data: The Marketer’s Toolkit is based on a survey of 800+ client marketers and agency executives around the world, backed by CMO interviews and WARC’s case studies and best practice guidance.

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