Customer experience (CX) was at the forefront of CMOs’ minds in 2018. They shifted ad budgets (under siege thanks to trust and transparency issues) to even more technology and CX initiatives. Good news: The focus is creating more emotionally resonant and useful brand experiences such as Disney’s MagicBand. Bad news: The competitive advantage these experiences deliver doesn’t last — see Carnival’s Medallion, which enables guests to enhance their cruising experiences. Despite all the tech spend and new innovations, we’re drifting into a sea of sameness — and not surprisingly, CX quality metrics have stagnated.

In 2019, CMOs will tackle this perennial problem by returning to their roots and grounding CX efforts extensively with brand — even if it means undergoing a modern tech-powered rebrand. Brand will provide the much-needed oomph to differentiate experiences and endear customers as they make emotion-fueled buying decisions. Forrester’s 2019 CMO predictions conclude that:

  • CMOs will use the brand to catalyze enterprisewide cooperation. The C-suite isn’t always Kumbaya and campfires, but someone needs to keep the leadership team in constant alignment with the customer. Broken silos and command-and-control have no place in a world where consumers do not distinguish between marketing and experiences. CMOs will don the mantle of key facilitator of cooperation, as they require broad support to deliver against their brand promises everywhere.
  • CMOs will revisit classic tensions to disrupt. Technology has been the prevailing source of disruption for years — exploiting weakness or unresolved problems within markets to create value — whether real or perceived. In a society beset by social and cultural differences, CMOs will look to tap into classic tensions in culture — using emotion as a springboard to achieving relevance in competitive markets. Tech-mature consumers are more receptive to tensions such as those displayed in Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign, which sparked heated reactions across the divided social spectrum, putting brand faith in its core fanbase. Rather than being all things to everyone, CMOs will shape brands that stand for something, focusing on who they serve and striving to serve them better.
  • CMOs will realize consumer and marketing technology are incompatible. Too much of the wrong technology is eroding customer energy. While CMOs have been diligently developing technology that wields consumer data around for their marketing purposes, customers have been growing and refining their own technology stacks — deploying a collection of devices, apps, and virtual assistants that protect their data — placing them comfortably in the cocoon they choose. Savvy CMOs will push back by demanding that martech vendors innovate in ways that reflect the real consumer experience so they can calibrate the approach to engage customers on their terms.

When all three of these come together, trust in the brand will take shape within trust in the brand experience — but only if empowered CMOs create a technology stack that is simpler, more secure, and more creative than the competition.

2019 is the year that transformation goes pragmatic. To understand the 14 major dynamics that will impact firms next year, download Forrester’s Predictions 2019 guide.