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Chief Marketing Officer Tenure Climbs to 48 Months

Spencer Stuart study has seen CMO tenure double since 2004
March 2015
CHICAGO — The average tenure for chief marketing officers of leading U.S. consumer brand companies increased to 48 months in 2014, according to the 11th annual CMO tenure study by executive search consulting firm Spencer Stuart. The 2014 figure is double CMO tenure in 2004 when Spencer Stuart began formally tracking CMO tenure and represents the first increase in tenure since 2011, when it was 43 months. Data for this year’s CMO tenure study was based on an analysis of tenure of CMOs of the top 100 advertised brands.

“There is a lingering perception that CMO tenure is short, but the reality is the data show long-term stability in the role. This has been the case for several years,” said Greg Welch, a consultant in the Spencer Stuart Marketing Officer Practice, who initiated the firm’s first tenure study in 2004. “While CMOs have some work to do match CEO tenure (80 months), there is no question CEOs are confident in giving their CMOs the task of truly leading dramatic change within their organizations. And not surprisingly, thanks to this experience, a number of CMOs moved onto larger general management roles in the past year.”

CMOs’ ability to leverage digital and analytics to create value for the business also has been a factor in longer tenure, according to Tom Seclow, who leads Spencer Stuart’s Marketing Officer Practice. “The ability to create measurably successful marketing initiatives has given CMOs credibility across the organization. CMOs are now clearly the advocate for the customer inside the company.”

Similar to past years of the study, CMO tenure varies widely across industries. Tenure is shortest in the automotive, restaurant and retail sectors, averaging between 26 to 40 months. CMOs in technology companies, meanwhile, continue to enjoy the longest tenure, averaging 65 months. Not far behind, are financial services and industrial CMOs, both averaging 63 months.

Average CMO Tenure through the Years (in months)

2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004 
 48.0  45.0 45.0  43.0  42.0  34.7  28.4  26.8  23.2  23.5  23.6 

Average CMO Tenure by Industry (in months)

 Industry 2014  2013  Percentage change 
Automotive 26 27 -4%
Communications/Media 44 31 30%
Consumer 52 52 0%
Financial Services 63 56 11%
Healthcare 52 40 23%
Industrial 63 51 19%
Restaurant 30 31 -3%
Retail/Apparel 40 50 -25%
Technology 65 64 2%

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