In the past three weeks, I have shared the key findings of our predictions research to different clients and at some Forrester events in London and in Amsterdam. It is always interesting to challenge clients on some of their assumptions, discuss what trends will accelerate next year, or be challenged on some of the bold calls we collectively make at Forrester.

We’ve made dozens of predictions, but here I decided to only share five of them to give you an overview of some of the mega trends we expect to impact CMOs and B2C/B2B marketers in Europe:

  1. Consumers will search for deeper meaning, meaning CMOs must rally around customer value. Today’s customers live in tumultuous times. Disinformation campaigns, social isolation, wealth inequality, climate change, and political unrest surround them. As a result, they want to align their purchases with their values. The massive usage of apps such as Yuka in France (a product scanner for food and cosmetic products) demonstrates such a phenomenon. This is not a new one but a trend that has slowly climbed from niche to mainstream. For example, 59% of UK consumers consider company values when making a buying a decision. The percentage is even higher among the younger generation. While lower-income earners may not be able to buy in accordance with their values, the desire for values alignment is steady across income brackets. Some brands like Patagonia answer these growing expectations by being authentic. We expect at least five Fortune 500 brands to seek B Corp status to bolster brand. Unilever’s CEO said he will kill brands if they hurt the society or the planet. However, it is a double-edged sword: By making only surface-level commitments, some brands risk losing trust and equity.
  2. To shift from storytelling to storymaking, CMOs will extend their span of control, but only 10% of them will truly elevate the marketing function. The CMO must establish control that extends beyond marketing, because you simply can’t build, express, sell, communicate, connect, or service today’s brands without continuity in the budget or authority. That continuity is essential to ensuring that the company demonstrates its brand promise consistently. In 2020, one designated C-suite leader will be responsible for all that surrounds the customer, clarifying the role of marketing in a business environment obsessed with growth. If the CMO does not elevate her role in the C-suite, the marketing function risks being eliminated or dissolved, with chief growth officers, chief client officers, and chief experience officers stepping in. By orchestrating customer experience (CX), external causes, and startlingly new opportunities for co-creation, CMOs will become more than storytellers; they will become story makers, placing consumers at the center of their company values, experiences, and processes.
  3. The number of CX executives will grow by 25%. In 2020, customer experience professionals will either quantify their business impact and reach new levels of influence . . . or find themselves in a tenuous position. In response to market turmoil, CEOs will demand that CX initiatives move out of the experimental phase and prove their contributions to top- and/or bottom-line growth. Measurement, metrics, and analytics will become critical to the success of CX initiatives.
  4. Marketing technology spending will get a strategic calibration. On average, marketers dedicate 22% of their budgets to technology. In Europe, more than two-thirds of marketers plan to continue to increase in martech next year, and, more specifically, more than one in five marketers will increase their martech budget by more than 10%. To differentiate, however, brands must blend technology with data and creativity and ensure that they stop amassing technology debt by overfocusing on the latest shiny technologies. Leaders activate data and creativity to power moment marketing throughout the customer journey.
  5. B2B marketers will finally embrace customer centricity. Slowly, B2B buyers have shifted engagement to digital channels and increased their self-directed research. So far, B2B marketing organizations may have recognized these shifting tides but have been slow to change how they operate. But we’ve reached the tipping point. In 2020, B2B CMOs will embrace change, rearrange their organizations, and reprioritize their investments. Thirty percent more organizations will shift toward audience-based structures (instead of operating by channel or by industry-specific domain), and sales enablement will become a marketing responsibility for a majority. (In 2019, sales enablement reported to the marketing function in only 23% of the orgs we surveyed.)

Clients who want to deep-dive into these themes can set up inquiries with analysts or read the full predictions reports here.