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Small group of marketers outperforms majority of the competition amid pandemic — Accenture

About 17% of marketers (from 1,000 respondents) found ways to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the last 18 months. This is one of the findings in Accenture Interactive’s (Accenture) latest report titled “The Great Marketing Declutter.”

Accenture identified this group as “Thrivers” who have found the vast majority (86%) of their employees found new motivation amid the global health crisis and who found new determination to provide services to customers’ rapidly changing motivations.

The report also found nearly 70% of marketing executives globally say that the past year has completely exhausted their employees, who suddenly found themselves adjusting to a new business landscape and servicing an evolved set of customers, as a result of the lockdowns and mobility restrictions.

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“Marketers who have seized the pandemic as a forcing function to redefine what they do, how they do it, and the overall the role of marketing in business are the ones who have become successful and are driving business growth,” said Jeannine Falcone, global marketing services lead, Accenture Interactive. “In-the-moment relevancy is critical for today’s brands, and you can’t do that if you’re operating from the same old playbook.”

From June to July 2021, Accenture Research and Accenture Interactive surveyed 1,022 marketing executives worldwide, across 19 countries and 19 industries to study the way that marketing leaders felt and reacted to the changes they perceived in their customers over the past year (2020) and how that contributed to their marketing organizations’ resilience.


According to the report, thrivers are decluttering marketing to manage complexities, with 59% of them noting that their marketing organization is much stronger today than last year because they have been pushed to think about marketing entirely differently. Thrivers have zeroed in on their customers’ evolving motivations and what’s needed to serve them in smarter, better ways. They have focused on what matters, discarded what doesn’t, and rewired the rest.

“As a result, they find greater meaning in their work, which is critical to serving the business and its customers and to retaining and attracting employees,” Accenture said.

The report breaks the remaining respondents down into two other groups, based on specific aspects of their customer relationships: “Strivers” — accounting for two-thirds (66%) of the executives surveyed — who have some autonomy to meet customer needs but have limited awareness of customer changes; and “Survivors” — accounting for the remaining 17% — who are burnt out and not in tune with the pulse of the customer change, assuming that such change is only temporary.

The research found that Thrivers are orienting their marketing organization around three important guiding principles: aligning with their company’s purpose; helping their customers; and improving how their marketing organization works. The research further pinpoints how Thrivers are leading the way in both their thinking and actions.


These marketers were ready and willing to evolve together with their customers adjusting their previous strategies accordingly to suit their needs.

“Thrivers are 60% more likely than Survivors to report that customer input is highly critical to key business decisions on customer experience,” the report said. “They recognize that synching all functions — product development, commerce, sales, service, and marketing — is necessary to unleash differentiation.”

The report also found that upon realizing the dramatic changes in business operations, Thrivers (95%) are more likely to increase their investments to scale at speed as opposed to Survivors (65%). And with these investments come quick adoption to new technologies (for example, automation) to be able to meet customers’ needs.

“Thrivers own their brand purpose, empathetically and authentically connecting with customers and delivering on what customers value,” the report found. “They are five times more likely than Survivors to view the shifts in pandemic-fueled customer values as an opportunity to rethink marketing’s role and reimagine their brand purpose.”