Egon Zehnder
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Architect of Consumer Centricity

The role of the Chief Marketing Officer at the interface between market needs and business strategy

Markets are merging; smart, self-confident consumers are networking with one another and sharing their views online. Instead of concentrating on the product, companies looking to exploit these developments need to build their business strategy around what the consumer wants. As the voice of the consumer in the executive suite, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is responsible for establishing a lasting strategic focus on the customer and consumer across the whole company.

“Companies that don’t realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation, are missing their best opportunity.” With theses like this, the Cluetrain Manifesto (1999) announced the end of one-way communication between businesses and their customers. At the height of the dotcom boom this manifesto, penned by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger, triggered a debate that today seems more relevant than ever.

Since then, the transformation heralded in the Cluetrain theses has pervaded the everyday business world and shows no signs of abating: Consumers are making their presence felt and asserting their right to be heard. With the digital technologies behind the new social media at their disposal, they have no problem exchanging views and networking. Consumers are rapidly becoming producers in their own right, commenting on content, rating and recommending products, and building peer-to-peer relationships – all based on values such as openness, transparency, authenticity and credibility.

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