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Chief Growth Officers: A New Era
1 August, 2017
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Colin McAllister
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Replacing the CMO with a CGO: A growing trend

Coca Cola recently eliminated the role of Chief Marketing Officer and replaced it with the new position: Chief Growth Officer. In recent months a number of companies— notably Coca Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Kellogg’s and Mondelez—have all eliminated the role of Chief Marketing Officer. What does a CGO do exactly?

With slight variations, in general a CGO reviews “traditional aspects of business, like product development, marketing, and sales” (Marketing Profs) in order to amplify growth opportunities. By reviewing a company’s business model and making alterations where needed, CGO’s are able to more clearly identify future opportunities for growth.

Why execs say it’s urgent

Coca Cola’s intentions are to be trailblazers by transforming into a “growth-oriented and consumer-centered” company. And they’re far from alone in this endeavor. Ninety percent of senior execs rated generating strategic business growth outside of the existing customer base as “urgent” on their agenda, according to a recent survey by The Growth Strategy Company. Mark Inskip, Global CEO of Kantar Futures, defends the need for a CGO rather than a CMO astutely, “A business model focused on a ‘whole company’ answer to the search for growth is a logical solution. It recognizes the core challenge of growth and removes the outdated concept of the separation of the sales and marketing functions—that’s not how consumers behave anymore.” (Warc) This shift toward more centralized leadership of company growth highlights the cultural urgency among major companies for innovative methods of growth, which is no doubt a step forward from CFOs running the show and obsessively squeezing costs.

Thinking long-term is key

The internet and digital ecosystem of our world have overturned the traditional buying funnel and the one-way linear processes that had worked so well in the wake of the Industrial Revolution.  In today’s economic climate, a company’s long-term vision reigns supreme. Companies are increasingly allocating and centralizing resources to key execs whose job it is to essentially have a comprehensive vision of the company’s future growth.

Progress is progress, despite various labels

Growth has long been considered integral to a company’s success. And execs of various titles have long understood its importance and strived to extend their reach ever wider. It truly doesn’t matter if you announce that you now have a CGO or an Experience Officer, or a Customer Officer or Branding Officer. Labels are far less significant than the intention behind them and the output they produce. What matters most is how these execs are running the company. If their mindset is ever focused on imaginative growth and the total customer experience, progress and success are all the more likely.


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