Why are UK marketers failing on innovation?

Bulb-2UK CMOs are falling behind their international counterparts when it comes to playing a part in innovation.

That’s according to a new survey by digital network Dentsu Aegis

Here we look at the survey findings, what they mean for UK marketers and what the impact might be for UK business.

Innovation not seen as core Marketing team responsibility

The survey asked 1,000 CMOs and senior-level marketers across ten countries for their views on the current landscape.

Just 25% said that ‘leading disruptive innovation’ was among the top three roles of their marketing function. This lags the international average of 35%, and is a long way behind their US counterparts, where 46% see innovation as a central part of their role.

The ranking places the UK bottom of the ten countries surveyed when it comes to marketing’s responsibility for innovation.



Source: Dentsu Aegis Network

The report says that this lack of initiative when it comes to disruption is ‘putting [businesses’] ability to meet the demands of the digital economy at risk’.

According to an article in Marketing Week, the survey corroborates other evidence showing a lack of innovation in UK firms. The article cites research by Millward Brown, which found that last year UK firms performed poorly in comparison to their global counterparts.

US brands, in contrast, place far stronger focus on new approaches. The Marketing Week article reports that drinks firms AB InBev and Pepsi have both prioritised innovation, and brought it closer to the marketing function, in order to up the pace of new developments.

This is a theme we’ve also identified previously, reporting that professional services marketers aren’t always making the most of digital and sharing tips for exploiting digital transformation in banking and minimising risk in digital transformation.

What are UK CMOs focused on?

So, if they’re not prioritising innovation, what is occupying UK CMO’s minds?

They are more likely to be focused on ‘developing the overall customer experience’, a catch-all category that 64% chose among their top three priorities (although, with customers driving much of today’s digital disruption, there should be no escape from innovation here either) .

‘Delivering business growth’ was a top 3 priority for 63% and ‘ensuring effective brand management’ for 52%. These were broadly in line with the international priorities, although ‘delivering business growth’ was the primary concern globally.

Firms that fail to innovate face risks – often from unexpected sources, as sectors threatened by the likes of Uber and Amazon will testify.

What else did the survey find?

Alongside the insights into innovation, the survey shared some other interesting findings.

  • Marketing spend is predicted to increase across most markets and industry verticals. CMOs in the technology sector are mostly likely to be increasing their budgets while food and beverage and automotive CMOs are most likely to be cutting theirs.
  • Although in the short term, budgets are generally increasing, CMOs believe that securing long-term investment is the biggest challenge they face.
  • Data is a big focus – ‘using data to target real people’ is seen as the number one strategic opportunity for CMOs. Conversely, data breaches are viewed as the number one risk.
  • Still on the subject of data, 60% believe that GDPR will make it harder to build a direct relationship with the consumer.

An innovation masterclass for regulated marketers

Of course, if you work in a regulated industry, tackling innovation comes with additional barriers. You need to not only get corporate buy-in, investment and customer support, you have to make sure that your innovations comply with FCA requirements.

Whether you are developing new products, introducing new delivery methods or innovating in your communications, you need to follow the regulator’s rules. Our tips for regulated firms that want to adapt to the digital age have some good advice.

And if you are increasing your digital marketing activity as part of your innovation efforts, you will find our Twitter for Financial Promotions tips useful. The tip sheet is free and you can download a copy here.

Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.

New Call-to-action