Brand and Demand: Brad Kreiger On Driving Brand Marketing and AI through a Historic Economic Downturn 

Scott Davis, Chief Growth Officer at Prophet, speaks with Brad Kreiger, CMO at Cushman & Wakefield on AI powered marketing. 

Brad Kreiger is the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Cushman & Wakefield and is responsible for the organization’s global marketing, communications and research functions. Within his role, he focuses on building the brand, demand generation, marketing technology and digital platforms, regional and service line marketing and business development activities, and research and thought leadership.  

Before joining Cushman & Wakefield, Kreiger co-founded Hard Hat Hub, a technology startup that created a digital talent marketplace in construction and facilities management. Prior, he spent a decade as SVP of Marketing at JLL, where he oversaw various corporate communications, marketing and business development functions.  

Scott Davis: Given the disruption and uncertainty we have faced over the last few years, how do you approach both executing your marketing strategy and organizing your marketing team?   

Brad Kreiger: COVID started as a big challenge no one knew how to solve. But at Cushman & Wakefield, we had the expertise and a powerful POV within our industry on how companies should operate relative to the pandemic. Some of that came through our experience during the SARS pandemic because we have a significant presence in China. By the time the pandemic had reached the United States, we were three months ahead of many of our competitors, which allowed us to position Cushman & Wakefield as an industry thought leader. That shift in our positioning positively impacted all of our brand metrics, especially PR.   

We have a senior team of economists and market researchers focusing on creating best-in-class thought leadership. I also have a smart, lean and scrappy corporate marketing team that manages PR and content marketing and also sits alongside the team of market researchers and economists.   

And in this uncertain environment, we are constantly evolving our go-to-market playbook. For example, we recently launched a new campaign called “Behind the Numbers,” which features 90-second Tik-Tok style videos from the perspective of a senior economist who just stepped out of a meeting with a client. We see phenomenal reach with these videos, much more than expected for a B2B organization.  

In addition to experimenting with our go-to-market playbook, we’re also doing a lot to mobilize our content by experimenting, taking risks and modernizing our channel mix. We’re also launching crisp positioning and messaging and trying to implement a  marketing strategy that is more B2C in terms of our message delivery, which has worked well and helped us increase our speed-to-market. My team is concentrating on launching quality and relevant content that helps our corporate and investor clients decide their next move.   

SD: It’s incredible how Cushman & Wakefield has taken major disruptions like the pandemic or the return-to-office debate and has risen as an industry thought leader shaping and directing the narrative around these significant events.  

BK: We’re not afraid to stand up and speak the truth as a brand. We saw a great reaction from our clients and the marketplace, so we continued to double down and go harder, which has become our signature go-to-market strategy. We lead with a strong POV and thought leadership. It’s fantastic when that aligns with us driving more revenue, but it can be even better if it doesn’t because it demonstrates the risk we are willing to take as a brand. That type of risk-taking has helped increase our credibility because we are saying things before our competitors and, therefore, have been early on many industry trends.   

SD: How has the relationship between marketing and sales within your organization shifted due to where you are as an organization? Does that relationship feel different than it did pre-pandemic?   

BK: We have a “we’re in it together mentality” because we’ve had some downturns within the market, which has enabled marketing to take the lead on driving demand. The results of marketing’s demand generation wins in the last few years have proven to our salesforce the importance of our relationship and have helped them see that marketing can do things they cannot do on their own. Additionally, our senior management sees the important link between sales and marketing, which is very different from other B2B organizations.  

SD: What is marketing’s role in shaping the overall corporate strategy for your firm, and how has that changed over the years?  

BK: Our organization is in the process of refreshing our strategic goals and business strategy, and marketing has a seat at the table regarding the overall corporate strategy. I also have a position on our firm’s global management team.  

SD: It’s fascinating to see you play a pivotal role in reimaging what Cushman & Wakefield can become and shift the frame of reference for what this business has been for the last 100 years.   

BK: Over the last eight years, the firm has transformed into a multi-billion-dollar global organization. It’s been an incredible transformation. When I think back on the first campaign I launched here, it was the “Welcome to the new Cushman & Wakefield” campaign. Since then, we’ve launched our environmental, social and governance (ESG) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. We’ve expanded into growing sectors like multi-family. We’ve matured our operations and reimagined our global infrastructure. As a member of our senior management team, I always ask myself, “Did the brand keep up with the pace of change?” “Does it reflect who we are and what we want to be in a decade?” We continually ask those questions to ensure our brand strategy meets the demands of our clients and market.  

SD: What is your brand and demand mix today, and what will it look like in the future?    

BK: As a B2B sales organization, and in a very competitive industry, demand and sales enablement will always be our heaviest weight in the mix. Call it 70% of what we do. That might tilt a little heavier to brand during down market conditions as we try to leverage our thought leadership across common client challenges. As the industry continues to evolve and consolidate, I think brand will continue to grow in the mix. The trick is ensuring the brand messages speak to the very disparate corners across the industry with consistency and relevance. 

SD: Given the disruption of the last few years, marketers are often asked to take on greater accountability to demonstrate immediate impact and ROI of marketing investment while creating tighter alignment with the business outcomes. Has that been your experience? If so, how have you shifted your strategy to show impact?  

BK: Currently, my team is working on fully automating our digital funnel to get to the point of measuring the critical metrics within each funnel stage. Our team has people sitting across the marketing funnel and within each stage, we identify the critical metrics to determine what conversion means at that stage in the customer journey.   

SD: Many marketing leaders are experimenting with AI within their organizations. Are you incorporating AI into your marketing practices, and if so, what does that look like?   

BK: We are running a lot of AI pilots and projects. We aim to use AI to either accelerate our marketing efforts or scale them, depending on our needs. We’re also experimenting with creative development, such as copywriting or graphic design. For example, with the video campaign series “Behind the Numbers,” we are using AI software to help accelerate our video editing capabilities. It’s exciting and we have an incredibly nimble team across the organization on AI right now. 

SD:  It’s evident that AI is enabling your team to be more efficient, but have you experienced any challenges when implementing AI to drive efficiency and if so how did you overcome them?  

BK:  I feel lucky that our firm has had an AI-backed transformation team now for several years. That’s helped my leadership overcome some of the early challenges around understanding what automation can do. It’s taken some of the fear out of the process. Now that we’re introducing generative AI into our marketing content processes, the challenges are really about training and scaling the process. Which means having strong change management partners. We measure the success based on typical efficiency metrics around shortening processes, but also on quality. Both are critical. I think AI is a means to an end, but you shouldn’t lose focus on the big-picture success metrics of the marketing program. 

SD: How will AI transform marketing in the next few years?   

BK: Big question. It will likely change the entire way the web works and ‘digital marketing’ around it. It might allow us to leapfrog clunky tech development and focus more on connecting data sets. And it should allow us to be more creative. That might sound counterintuitive, but if you think about the energy it takes to generate one creative idea today, we may be able to come up with 50 concepts in the same amount of time. Add that to reducing all the administrative tasks,  what’s left are creative, passionate marketers who know their customers and can use their experience to evaluate the best ways to get messages to market. It’s going to be exciting. 

SD: What advice do you have for marketing leaders and CMOs navigating the uncertainty of the next few years?  

BK: Leading the marketing function is not for the faint of heart. You have to be ready to react to what’s happening and make decisions fast. The world has gotten very complicated, yet organizations are facing pressure to grow at the same pace as when the world was less volatile. All of this is making it even more complicated than ever to get your message out, which is why great marketing leaders listen more than they talk and are aware of their audience and how they make decisions. If you are an old-school leader who thinks that pretty and shiny ads will beat people down with your message, you will not succeed. In this market, you need to meet people where they are and understand how your product and brand need to evolve.  

About Scott Davis  

Scott is a senior partner and the Chief Growth Officer at Prophet. He brings over 20 years of brand, marketing strategy and new product development experience. Scott speaks at and chairs branding conferences such as The Conference Board and the American Marketing Association and is frequently cited in publications like The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and Forbes. In addition to helping clients unlock uncommon growth, he is an Adjunct Professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a guest lecturer at other top graduate schools, including NYU, Harvard, Notre Dame, Medill and Columbia. 

Are you interested in talking with Scott? You can contact him here.


In our new series, Brand and Demand: The Interviews, Prophet experts sit down with CMOs and marketing leaders who are unlocking demand, driving uncommon growth and building relentlessly relevant brands to get their takes on the top trends, challenges and opportunities they face in today’s disruptive world.   


Marketers’ 2023 and 2024 Planning Do-More-With-Less Bootcamp

Budget tightening is this year’s corporate mantra. Here are seven steps marketing leaders can take to drive meaningful growth with fewer resources.

Ask any marketer, and they’ll tell you that 2023 has been a year of budget cuts and canceled launches. According to Gartner’s CMO Spend and Strategy 2023 Survey, 75% of senior marketers reported being asked to do more with less. As budgets decrease, marketing expectations significantly increase, with 86% of surveyed senior marketers agreeing their organization must undergo significant changes in how they work to achieve their goals.   

Right now, that near-universal do more with less directive is an especially bitter pill. Marketers still have whiplash from the last few years, with some businesses seeing massive contraction during the pandemic and others experiencing dizzying growth, resulting in competing interests between brand and demand. Many hoped for at least a glimmer of normalcy.   

Between inflation and rising interest rates, the likelihood of a recession has become a daily odds-making game for economists. The risk is falling. Yet many, including CEOs, investors, legislators and consumers, are already entrenched in a `vibecession.’ They feel things are bad, even if economic indicators don’t support that view. In conjunction with the disruption of the last few years, it has become almost impossible for marketers to rely on historical planning processes and requires them to maximize flexibility, even as budgets and resources diminish.   

This uncertainty isn’t necessarily bad news for the creative and agile marketer. After all, disciplined belt-tightening can allow marketing leaders to reflect, establish new ways of working, and find creative ways to deliver maximum value with their current resources.   

As marketers look to close the year strong and head into 2024 planning, we’ve identified seven critical steps marketing organizations should take to strategically balance and blend brand and demand marketing agendas and inform next year’s planning efforts that are fast upon us. 

1. Translate Business Objectives Into Quantified Customer Goals  

The first and most important part of doing more with less is to remain diligent in driving business outcomes with a customer-focused lens. All activity should point directly at delivering business value for the short and long term. Ensuring you have customer-focused goals based on acquisition, retention, cross-sell and upsell and making your brand worth paying more for is the foundation to maximize resources.   

Once you have set your goals, you must regularly track and align your efforts to the business outcomes your organization expects marketing to influence or drive. To do this, we recommend developing a leading and lagging metrics ladder and establishing quarterly check-ins with your team. By doing so, you will know what is working in your marketing plan and feel more confident that every element of your marketing budget is maximized and driving ROI. And if you notice that marketing efforts are underperforming, you’ll be in a better position to quickly pivot your efforts.  

Learn more on how you can anchor your marketing activities and investments in business outcomes in our global research report, Brand and Demand: A Love Story.  

2. Do Fewer Things 

Peter Drucker famously wrote, “Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.” The same is true with marketers. Every dollar works as hard as possible, but the success of your budget is dependent on whether you invested those dollars appropriately, which is why marketing leaders need to prioritize growth opportunities and continuously analyze and optimize to ensure those efforts are practical and efficient.  

Obvious, right? But in a world where specialists and digital marketing skills are at a premium, many companies are overspending to build executional muscle in modern marketing tactics. But while they are actively improving their search and social skills, for example, they may lose focus on why they are in those channels in the first place. 

Companies can do more things right by doing fewer things and staying laser-focused on driving business outcomes and customer goals. Before greenlighting any initiative, even small ones, you must ensure they support those goals. When calculating the cost of your marketing efforts, measuring the cost in dollars and the resources and time your team needs to invest in executing is critical.   

Here are some key questions to help marketers prune the marketing calendar. If you’re feeling advanced, you can build a scoring system to help you prioritize.  

3. Prioritize Moments That Matter Most in Your Customer’s Journey 

As our Brand and Demand: A Love Story report noted, journey-based planning has become critical in the digitally driven marketers’ toolbox. However, as marketers adopt this concept, many need to work harder to make the most out of every moment in the journey, which spreads resources too thin and splinters impact.   

Studying the journey keeps organizations customer-centric and uncovers opportunities. But to maximize usefulness, marketers must decide on the most critical barriers to address and seize opportunities to build out the signature and memorable moments. 

Prioritizing the moments that matter the most in the customer journey calls for tough choices, especially when you need to do more with less. Marketing leaders prioritizing customer acquisition will likely lean toward awareness and consideration moments, while those focused on retention and loyalty will probably lean toward post-purchase moments. One thing to note when prioritizing these moments is to make a list of those that you are choosing to ignore now. Eventually, marketing budgets will increase again, and the moments you deprioritize can be revisited.   

Once you have prioritized your moments, you must ensure your teams leverage these moments for brand and demand opportunities. After all, doing more with less is sometimes doing two things simultaneously! By doing so, it will be easier for your team to make the right choices about the appropriate channels, experiences and messages you need to serve your customers and, at the right time, to drive results for your organization. 

4. Sharpen Your Value Propositions- Superiority That Matters 

To stay relentlessly relevant and earn customer respect and loyalty, strong brands must deliver meaningful, purposeful connections that appeal to people’s emotions with distinctive brand Purpose, Promise and Principles. At this point, many brands clearly understand why they exist and what they do. Still, in this low-spending climate, where every dollar counts, brands should revisit how they think about functional benefits, quality and superiority claims.  

When budgets and resources are constrained, it is a best practice to revise and sharpen your demand-based value proposition at the umbrella brand and product level, ensuring that product-level promises are crisp, compelling and competitive.  And, even more than that, based on things that your target audience can experience. Superiority in the lab or around the margins is one thing, but superiority that people can see and feel, that makes a real difference is another thing. Weaving those promises to reinforce and inform the brand story, and vice versa and ensuring that they are reflected across all in-market executions can boost short-term revenues, even as they support long-term brand health.   

Revisiting your value proposition may mean returning to tried and true basics while challenging assumptions within your organization. It can also result in your team reconsidering old-fashioned benefits and features to sharpen your customer value story, which should evolve and grow as your customer needs change. 

As you do so you should think through these critical questions: 

  1. What are the specific tensions, meaningful benefit pillars and proof points that are critical to deliver on the brand promise?  
  2. Do these need to change for different customer audiences?  
  3. How can we uniquely deliver superiority that matters to customers?  
  4. Are our proof points ownable and tangible?
  5. Are the brand and demand value stories tightly interwoven? 
  6. How can you test and learn before market scaling? 

5. Give Your Creative Assets a Make-over  

In recent years, much of the focus for marketers has been on where and how communications are delivered. It’s impressive how far many have come as they build expertise in performance marketing, owned and earned media, SEO and SEM.   

But many people forget that data shows the success of a campaign is dependent on the quality of the creative. Brilliant campaign ideas and breakthrough experiences are a must-have. Creative work at every point in the journey needs to be branded and rooted in demand-based product truths. It’s not enough to love an asset on the drawing board. It has to stand out in the specific context in which people will discover it. 

During times when you need to do more with less, it’s a good step to build upon your basics. Below is a sampling of a few ways you can do this: 

  • Add more demand marketing strategies to your top-of-funnel efforts. 
  • Dial up your brand messaging during the purchasing stage of your customer’s journey.  
  • Sweat your call to action (CTA). You should vet and optimize your CTAs, even if you’ve used them a million times.  
  • Ensure every experience and touchpoint leads your customers to the next milestone in their journey and propels them to the conversion and loyalty stages.  

On a side note, many marketers are integrating AI into their creative process to drive efficiency in their process and execution. We will touch on this more below. 

6. Leverage AI to Do More With Less

AI and machine learning, have played a critical role for marketers for several years. After all, both power programmatic buying, personalized messaging, predictive analytics, buy-now recommendations and chatbots.   

But, with the recent rise of ChatGPT and generative AI tools, businesses have begun experimenting with new ways to increase productivity and effectiveness. It’s becoming clear that the marketing teams that leverage AI tools can magically add more hours to their days.   

While we are at the beginning stages of this new evolution of generative AI, we have identified four key areas of AI that can help support your marketing efforts and teams today. 

AI is evolving fast, and marketers must remember that what they learned last week is outdated. Yet even in its infancy, it has the potential to save money, free up hundreds of hours and improve effectiveness. 

7. Elevate Scenario Planning  

It sometimes feels like we are working in patchy fog. Will the “vibecession” give way to a real one? Will do more with less  be the bumper sticker for just a few more quarters or the foreseeable future? No one knows. But effective scenario planning can mean the difference between simply surviving unexpected curveballs or thriving because of them. It’s the difference between mourning and moving.  

People often think of scenario planning as dealing with the long-term future for outcomes that are years away. But why not use it for the near term to proactively address scenarios that may jeopardize the ability to reach any prioritized goal? It can even be used at the level of an individual initiative to ensure quick response to in-market performance.  

Think of scenario planning as a game. A game board like the one below can be used to help with thinking ahead on owned-asset performance. We recommend building a cross-disciplinary team to scenario plan for your next launch, campaign or initiative. You can use this gameboard to strategize how you might react to potential scenarios, such as shifting media spending, changing messaging or revisiting content and social strategies.   

From there, teams can think about how best to codify and socialize the contingency plans, including the owners of levers. 

The job isn’t over when the game board is completed. Identifying when, how and who is responsible for tracking and implementing is critical. Additional cross-functional planning sessions can allow follow-up on hot topics and assign owners to chosen levers.   

Learn more about scenario planning in our recent AMA article. 

Want to know more? Join our webinar Jumpstarting 2024 Marketing Planning: Do More With Less on Thursday, September 28. Register today.


Instead of thinking about doing more with less as negative, think of it as a path to unlocking uncommon growth. By intensifying customer-centricity, doing fewer things, focusing on moments that matter, sharpening value propositions and befriending AI, marketers can navigate the challenges of constrained resources and emerge stronger. These back-to-basic exercises increase impact, build resilience, and pave the way for meaningful long-term growth. Interested in learning how you can do more with less? Contact Kate Price or Mat Zucker to get started.  


Brand and Demand: Amy Scissons on Building Agile Marketing Organizations

Mat Zucker, Senior Partner at Prophet, speaks with Amy Scissons, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Russell Reynolds Associates, on the importance of building an agile marketing organization.  

Amy Scissons is the Chief Marketing and Communications officer at Russell Reynolds Associates, overseeing global marketing and communications for the leading executive search and leadership advisory firm.  

Scissons previously was at Mercer, where she served as Chief Marketing Officer and led marketing operations in more than 100 cities and 41 countries for the global human resources consulting firm. She brings over 20 years of experience across several industries and global markets. Scissons specializes in integrated marketing, demand generation, customer-centric digital and data-driven marketing and leading high-performance teams.  

Mat Zucker: Given the disruption of the last few years, marketers are often being asked to take on greater accountability to demonstrate immediate impact and ROI of marketing investment while creating tighter alignment with the business outcomes. Has that been your experience? If so, how have you shifted your strategy to show impact? 

Amy Scissons: The expectations around marketing delivered ROI have evolved since taking the role. Previously, this role was focused on communications and driving colleague engagement, but now it’s shifted to driving topline growth for the firm while carving out greater differentiation within the market. In particular, professional services and leadership advisory is a relatively homogeneous marketplace as we deliver similar services to our competitors. Differentiation is key to ensuring we continue to win in the market.  

To measure our impact, we look at marketing-attributed revenue, particularly inbound leads driven by digital or other channels. We also look at how effectively we sell differentiated service bundles tied to our client needs. To measure the success of our business development enablement, we look at win rates and the service portfolio’s overall growth.  

MZ: Within your organization, how do you partner with other internal business units and teams to unlock new opportunities for driving growth? Has this evolved in recent years?   

AS: Growth opportunities are a shared responsibility among business development, strategy and marketing. For example, our strategy team will identify organic growth opportunities. At the same time, our client-facing colleagues will highlight new business challenges our clients face, while marketing will use data and digital to identify new growth opportunities based on engagement. We collectively evaluate them as an organization and action them accordingly.  

MZ: Last year, we published a report, “Brandand Demand Marketing: A Love Story,” which speaks to the tensions between brand and demand marketing and why working in silos harms performance. Both are critical functions that need to work together to enable success. How do you balance brand and demand within your marketing organization?  

AS: Within our marketing and communications organization, we made a significant shift to our operating model and chose to build out more specialized roles within the team. This shift has changed how we can execute and the speed at which we can deliver. As a result, we are becoming much more creative in presenting our insights and data, which gives executives ways to interact with our insights and take them to the boardroom. For example, we may not always win the thought leadership topic game, but we can win on how we deliver our thought leadership. By shifting how the team is structured, we’ve become more agile, allowing us to do some brand, demand, and business development enablement work.  

MZ: Now that you have this new operating model in place, are people still wired in the old way, hybrid, or have they fully embraced this new way of working? 

AS: Yes, we have adapted nicely to the new way of working, though it took time to map out workflows and ensure team members trust one another to deliver their part of the work. The briefing process is key every time we take on a new project. We establish the “why” of our project and challenge ourselves to think of creative ways to deliver the work.   

MZ: What kind of feedback do you get from your people regarding their careers and where they are in their journey? 

AS: We are a relatively new team. We are in our second full year as a fully formed marketing leadership team. We are all excited about the work we are doing. I give my team a lot of autonomy and space to innovate. Some of them are interested in AI, so they have dedicated time to play around with these tools. With AI, I’ve told them first to find a really small way to use it so that they can show the organization that we are thinking about it. The team quickly came up with the idea to build screensavers with our logo using AI, and now our consultants have this up on their desktops. Little things like that help build energy around innovation and move the organization forward, which excites the team. It feels like a small thing, but it gives people permission to experiment.  

MZ: Our research found that experimentation and a test-and-learn mindset are not nice to have but a must-have because if you only use benchmarks to measure success, you will fail. How does this concept sit with you? 

AS: I 100% agree. We do things we would never think to invest in as experiments and are always surprised to see the growth and opportunities that emerge. For instance, our Redefiners  podcast has been incredibly successful, but we did not predict that would be the case. I never thought we would see 25,000 downloads per episode in the first or third season. And because of this test, our podcast has become a successful investment in the Russell Reynolds Associates brand and is now a fully operational demand-generation tool.  

Test and learn is built into how we work. Some tests did not perform that well. For example, we thought this really cool digital pitch tool would completely change our win rate, but it didn’t, so we pivoted and killed it quickly.  

MZ: What big takeaway do you want to share with other CMOs and marketing leaders?  

AS: Creating an environment and a team that can be very agile is incredibly important, but you need to make sure you also have the right technology to support it. After all, much of your budget goes to your marketing technology stack. Having the right operating model is also important. You need to create a model that enables your marketers to work and act differently and not get stuck in the ways of working that are not working. It’s essential to challenge the organization, innovate, do things competitors aren’t doing and let ideas come from everywhere. Because my team is so agile, we can act on and respond to new ideas and bring them to market faster. 

MZ: What are the biggest challenges you believe other CMOs and marketing leaders face today and will continue to face in the next few years? 

AS: I am convinced that marketing is going through a massive disruption. AI will transform marketing, and the marketers who understand how to use AI, develop prompts and put them in workflows will see a lot of success. The challenge with the CMO role is that it is very broad and has high expectations. You only have a little time to think, transform, and drive change. But the CMOs and marketing leaders who figure out how to use AI in their workflows will be more productive and thrive.  

About Mat Zucker 

Mat is a senior partner and co-lead of Prophet’s Marketing and Sales practice. He helps clients transform digitally, finding new areas of growth in marketing, content and communications. Previously, Mat was the Global Executive Creative Director at Razorfish, served as Chief Creative Officer at OgilvyOne New York and held leadership roles at R/GA and In addition to helping clients creatively connect and engage with their customers, he hosts two podcasts, Cidiot and Rising.   

Are you interested in talking with Mat? You can contact him, here


In our new series, Brand and Demand: The Interviews, Prophet experts sit down with CMOs and marketing leaders who are unlocking demand, driving uncommon growth and building relentlessly relevant brands to get their takes on the top trends, challenges and opportunities they face in today’s disruptive world.


Brand and Demand: An Interview with T. Rowe Price’s Head of Global Marketing Theresa McLaughlin

Chiaki Nishino, president at Prophet, speaks with Theresa McLaughlin, head of global marketing at T. Rowe Price, on the evolving role of marketing within financial service organizations. 

Theresa McLaughlin is the head of global marketing at T. Rowe Price. Before T. Rowe Price, McLaughlin served as an executive and CMO at global financial services firms including eight years at TD Bank Group as executive vice president and global chief marketing, customer experience and corporate citizenship officer.   

McLaughlin previously was at Citizens Financial Group, a division of Royal Bank of Scotland, where she served in various leadership positions over her 18-year tenure, including chief marketing officer, head of corporate affairs, internal communications, enterprise customer experience and innovation and director of product management.   

Chiaki Nishino: Given the disruption of the last few years, marketers are often asked to take on greater accountability to demonstrate immediate impact and ROI of marketing investment while creating tighter alignment with the business outcomes. Has that been your experience? If so, how have you shifted your strategy to show impact?  

Theresa McLaughlin: It is a very interesting time to be the global head of marketing especially when considering the evolution of digital transformation. When I was at TD Bank Group, the organization’s investment in third-party digital increased from 5% to 50%. Now it’s shifted to first-party digital investments.  

When the digital transformation first began, it wasn’t about brand storytelling but performance marketing. It quickly became a competition of performance marketing versus brand marketing. And that probably needed to swing in this direction to ensure there was a return with performance marketing investments.  

But when COVID hit, the proliferation of content in the media became intense, and organizations needed to shift to build more authenticity.  

Given all I have seen, I’m a big believer in brand and demand. I want to ensure that my budget in brand, individual business unit marketing and incremental campaign budgets are all looked at through an integrated model of brand and demand. Ultimately, I want to drive the brand into the product experience and the performance marketing strategy.  

CN: How have conversations with your C-suite and board changed as you take on new accountability in driving and proving business value?   

TM: There absolutely is pressure to demonstrate ROI, but as the global head of marketing, my job is to lean into storytelling. For example, we pull together the story and data in the right way, to show how we are influencing the full-funnel experience for our target audience and clients.   

When communicating the brand investment, I lean into classic upper and lower funnel brand metrics, but brand is about what clients say it is, not what we tell them. Therefore, metrics like NPS really matter when talking about the brand experience. I expect tough questions from across the executive team, so I lean into data to tell the story that proves marketing’s ROI. What got us here is not going to get us there, which is why we are making the case for brand investment. 

CN. How do you partner with other internal business units and teams to unlock new opportunities for driving growth, and how has this evolved in recent years?   

TM: T. Rowe Price is a global organization, so sitting within that global distribution organization is essential.   

When partnering with my sales organization, I’ll start by standing up with the sales management team and collaborating on initiatives such as lead management, product marketing and positioning, and RFP management as just a few examples. Cross-functional leadership is crucial not just for marketing but to deliver better business outcomes that truly meet the needs of our customers.  

CN: In our research, we found that effective marketers work to build modern marketing organizations and experiment to win. Do you have any examples you can share where you’ve been able to implement these two principles effectively?   

TM: At T. Rowe Price, every part of marketing is in a constant state of transformation, which is why the principle “experiment to win” resonates with me. We have many opportunities and playgrounds where we can test and learn new strategies and techniques, and our team’s new talent has upgraded our approach to experimentation.   

In terms of building a modern marketing organization, getting your operating model is critical. It is vital to take an integrated approach to the operating model. This is why it’s crucial to be a “T-shaped marketer” who can play a more fluid and integrated role within your organization. To build an integrated marketing org, about two-thirds of our team sit in the center, but a third sits in the business, so we avoid operating in silos and get greater connection points to move our marketing agenda forward with the buy-in from other functional leads.  

In my role, I often see myself as more than just the global head of marketing.  In addition to being responsible for marketing, I need to think about CX, talent, digital, sales, and lead generation – it’s true capital marketing. My role is often that of an integrator, and to do that successfully, I need to convince other functional leads – who aren’t marketers — to find points of collaboration. I often approach this like I would a marketing campaign. It’s all about creating seamless experiences that put the customer at the center of everything we do. 

About Chiaki Nishino  

Chiaki Nishino is Prophet’s president and a member of the organization’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors. In addition to leading Prophet’s North American business strategy, she oversees the organization’s global Women in Leadership and Diversity efforts. She brings extensive experience in growth strategy, customer experience, brand strategy and marketing. She’s led clients in financial services, communication and healthcare to new avenues of expansion. And she’s an industry leader in customer engagement and marketing accountability, having spoken at the Conference Board and the Association of National Advertisers. Before joining Prophet, Chiaki was a Partner at Lippincott Mercer, and worked at Mercer Management Consulting and Dell Computers. Are you interested in talking to Chiaki? You can contact her here.


In our new series, Brand and Demand: The Interviews, Prophet experts sit down with CMOs and marketing leaders who are unlocking demand, driving uncommon growth and building relentlessly relevant brands to get their takes on the top trends, challenges and opportunities they face in today’s disruptive world.


Elevate Your Market Segmentation Approach with Demand-to-Growth Landscape: Three Strategic Examples 

Learn how Prophet’s Demand-to-Growth Landscape can help inform strategic decisions across portfolio, brand and product levels.  

For consumer brands, China remains one of the most attractive lands of opportunities, despite the disruption from the pandemic. The rise of a huge middle class with enormous spending power makes the market a must-win, but not necessarily an easy one. Different generations of consumers are developing vastly diverse lifestyles, needs and preferences, and competition between local and international, startup and traditional companies is increasingly intense. Regional differences require highly nuanced go-to-market strategies beyond adapting to the local digital ecosystems.   

To navigate this environment effectively, companies need to answer two fundamental questions: Where should they play to unlock growth? And how can they win with differentiated and relevant value propositions? These seemingly straightforward questions can be daunting as they require careful and holistic considerations regarding the entire business – how to structurally define consumer opportunities with so many forces and fast-moving trends at play? How to drive organizational alignment around key growth spaces? How to develop a high-level strategy with concrete actions across brand, product and channel execution? 

Introducing Demand-to-Growth Landscape 

At Prophet, we partner with leading consumer brands to answer these strategic questions through a comprehensive analytic method called the Demand-to-Growth Landscape. In a nutshell, Demand-to-Growth Landscape is a systematic study that examines the key dimensions (e.g., consumer segments, consumption occasions, etc.) influencing consumer demand for a certain category. By drawing a map with these dimensions, we define and synthesize consumer growth spaces, and thus blend value lenses and consumer lenses to decode each opportunity.   

There is no one universal formula for how companies should utilize the Demand-to-Growth Landscape. However, those that succeed often follow three best practices. 

1. Customize the map.

Although consumer segments and consumption occasions are commonly used, particularly by companies in the consumer packaged goods category as key dimensions to build the Demand-to-Growth Landscape, companies have to think through what works best for their category and the intended usage of the tool. For instance, price tier can be applied as a dimension for the fashion category as it’s often a key factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions. 

2. Enrich with human insights.

While the quantitative study is helpful for identifying and profiling growth spaces, companies will benefit from deep listening to gain a thorough understanding of their consumers’ motivations and experiences to inspire actions. 

3. Create and sustain competitive superiority.

Once companies have decided which growth spaces to focus on, they have to build a competitive advantage. They can learn from the Superiority Model, initially developed by P&G, to define the most critical levers for their category, and be diligent in applying the framework to guide actions and track results.   

Source: Proctor & Gamble

How Your Company Should Utilize the Demand-to-Growth Landscape for Different Strategic Objectives 

The Demand-to-Growth Landscape can help inform strategic decisions across portfolio, brand and product levels. Below, we outline three tried-and-true applications of the approach, each with a client story to illustrate how it can positively impact the business. 

Develop Brand Portfolio Strategy  

Demand-to-Growth Landscape provides foundational insights for developing a brand portfolio strategy. Leaders who oversee large portfolios should ask: 

  • Which are the growth spaces to prioritize?  
  • How many brands are required to win these spaces?  
  • What is the role of each brand?  
  • Is there any opportunity to rationalize the portfolio or tap into white space?  

Our work with sportswear and lifestyle group 

Our client is a global leader in sports and lifestyle products with a diverse range of apparel, footwear, accessories, and equipment. Its business needed to scale but was facing difficulty, as several of its brands were playing on top of each other.  

Source: Unsplash

Prophet was engaged to help the client gain a better understanding of its key global markets, including China and the US, and provide strategic recommendations for go-to-market actions. We started by uncovering eight consumer segments, which were prioritized based on spending power, category engagement and brand perceptions. We then built a Demand-to-Growth Landscape based on these consumer segments and occasions, highlighting growth spaces to expand the business with the current portfolio of brands. To tease apart the individual brands’ growth strategies, Prophet defined clear swim lanes on the landscape, aligning on “centers of gravity” for each brand to prioritize investment and brand building.  

Define Brand Target and Positioning 

Demand-to-Growth Landscape offers critical consumer insights to help inspire a unique brand positioning. CMOs seeking to elevate their brands should ask:  

  • Who are the consumers in the target growth space?  
  • What do these consumers need the most, and how can my brand connect with them?  
  • What are the functional benefits required to support the emotional value?  

Our work with a leading CPG company 

Our client, a global food and beverage giant, sought our expertise to help reposition one of its key brands following a successful collaboration on its China brand portfolio strategy. In recent years, the brand has become staler, facing challenges in attracting young consumers.  

Source: Unsplash

To reinforce the brand strategy, we thoroughly examined the previously established Demand-to-Growth Landscape data in order to identify the most critical consumers within the brand’s target growth space. We delved into demographics, including age group and city tier, as well as their life motivations and category attitudes and behaviors. Additionally, we conducted deep listening research to capture micro-stories that brought the brand muse to life. Leveraging these insights, we identified a potent brand positioning territory that deeply resonated with the younger generation’s yearning for genuine connections, especially within the home environment following the pandemic. 

Identify Product Portfolio Opportunities 

By combining Demand-to-Growth Landscape with Superiority assessment, businesses can gain valuable insights to uncover product opportunities. Marketers who own a vast product portfolio should ask: 

  • Where does the brand have potential product gaps on the demand landscape? 
  • Where do the brand’s existing products fall short compared to competitors? 
  • Where does the brand have competitive products but need to improve its messaging or product availability? 

Our work with a leading apparel company 

Prophet was appointed by a leading apparel and footwear company to accelerate its transformation from a product-driven to a consumer-centric approach to its brand strategy in China. The company had diverse products, each with functional benefits, however, they often overlapped and lacked a distinctive focus in messaging.  

Source: Unsplash

Through the Demand-to-Growth Landscape approach, we delineated each growth space based on opportunity size, price tier, consumer profile and goals, and desired product drivers. Subsequently, we collaborated with the client’s product experts to objectively map their product portfolio and those of key competitors onto the landscape, conducting a thorough Superiority assessment. This exercise enabled the client’s senior leadership team to achieve alignment and make commitments to a series of product growth initiatives, bringing confidence to revitalize their growth momentum. 


With increasingly fragmented consumer segments and intense competition, companies need to continuously evaluate their priority growth spaces and evolve value propositions to stay relevant. Prophet’s Demand-to-Growth Landscape approach helps leaders navigate these challenges in a systematic yet nuanced way beyond traditional consumer segmentation. Through different use cases, the Demand-to-Growth Landscape can provide indispensable insights into strategic decisions. 


Your M&A is Likely Hurting Your M&S (Martech & Salestech)

Avoid falling victim to cost-focused consolidation efforts that potentially limit growth. 

Historically, corporate mergers and acquisitions (M&A) were undertaken to help companies scale, find cost efficiencies, gain access to distribution and block competitors. In the past decade, we’ve seen a digitally driven shift in M&A activity, with the focus moving away from barriers and efficiencies, and towards true growth: leveraging digital technology and business models to offer better products, more engaging experiences and more effective ways of working

Beware of Antiquated Approaches to Integrated Management Offices 

The most important role in a successful M&A event is the Integration Management Office, or “IMO”.  With the digital-centric M&A model, IMOs need to change their approach from an operational focus of pruning off duplicate assets, consolidating teams and looking for organizational synergy, to a strategic rethinking of the firm’s approach to growth

One critical foundation of growth that IMOs typically mismanage during M&A activity is the MarTech & SalesTech infrastructure. IMOs often focus on identifying and eliminating duplication of systems and subsequent cost reduction but don’t proactively explore improvements such as tighter cross-system integrations, cleaner data or more thoughtful process automation. While these sound like minor operational factors, they can become the underpinnings of more effective customer engagement strategies, compelling user experiences and powerful upsell/cross-sell/retention initiatives. 

If organizations aren’t careful, MarTech and SalesTech can fall victim to cost-focused consolidation efforts and might come out of an M&A deal tied to systems that will suffocate growth. Here’s how to spot these dangers and avoid them. 

Do Not Assume Your Options are Binary 

We have yet to see a sales or marketing team 100% satisfied with their existing tech stacks and workflows. After a deal, you will have to invest time and money into consolidating and migrating systems. You will also have a large pool of vendors -many of which you have great interpersonal relationships with- feeling the pressure to hold onto their accounts. 

Fight the urge to pick from a subset of existing vendors. You may find yourself with a system that is only designed for half of the company, or unable to scale into the new larger enterprise. Take the time to step back and make a holistic and strategic set of choices before diving into a large migration effort. It’s better to be at the bottom of the right ladder than halfway up the wrong one. As Amber Sundell, head of demand generation at Merative, a data and technology healthcare company, puts it, “We might have fewer marketing and sales systems these days, but everyone in this space continues to feel those budget and data standardization cuts/missteps.” 

Clarify Your Desired Future State and Look Backwards  

Your CEO and the deal team likely won’t stop talking about this future utopia of the new combined organization. That utopia two, five, or ten years from now probably doesn’t have tech stacks designed when the two companies were operating with different intentions.  

For example, lead handling systems typically put potential customers into different categories or types. What if those categories are different between the two merging companies? And what if those categories are hard-coded into all sales flows and reporting systems — how will you operate? 

Or what if your organization uses Platform X for email campaign management, and the acquired firm uses Platform Y, but they both use different sets of templates and other source data to trigger the message? Is it possible to send a demand generation campaign or order confirmation message without a manual workaround? 

These sorts of “differences” are assumed and understood when framing an M&A event, but rarely is there budgeting for the hard work of standardizing data taxonomies, refactoring (reducing) templates, or re-integrating systems outside of core billing. What starts as potential synergy quickly becomes invisible technical debt. Often, that debt becomes a long-term liability for the resulting Marketing or Sales Operations Teams, and it persists for years beyond the merger event. 

You are Building Pipes and Plumbing, not a Funnel  

If you’re not already operating in a multi-business unit enterprise, the latest acquisition might spur it, or will in the near future.  There is already an invisible wall between marketing and sales on a variety of dimensions, incentives, cultures, skills, styles, etc. And as you move towards –or deeper into – a multi-BU enterprise, you’ll likely have fragmented sales teams and centralized and decentralized marketing teams. From a demand gen perspective, you need to stop thinking of lead flows as a funnel, and more like pipes and plumbing. And don’t underestimate the people risks associated with M&A activities. Sundell states, “The employees who are redistributed or leave the organization after an integration, take legacy knowledge with them. You also find yourself missing reasons why things were or were not done in a certain way.” 

How do you move forward with this approach? Examine each joint and pipe and look for leaks. Measure the pressure and flow rate at each valve and faucet.  

And check the temperature frequently. 

Translation: Standardize data formats and integration points to make sure systems are talking and information flows correctly from one step to the next. Use reporting to capture meaningful operational metrics and KPIs for each overall process and important sub-step. And use ROI analyses with clear and simple dashboards to know when the process is working and the effort was successful. 


It is said that most mergers and acquisitions fail. Many believe that it is because deals are normally predicated on growth, but the integration process is dominated by cost-related decisions.  The answer is both, and most importantly, your Salestech and Martech are your biggest demand gen investments. There will be opportunities to combine stacks to lower ongoing operating expenses.  But don’t lose the opportunity to step back and fully re-evaluate your platforms to maximize your demand gen efforts to support the growth of the newly combined enterprise. 


Top 5 Trends Marketers in Asia Should Expect in 2023

Five marketing trends in Asia to help position brands for uncommon growth this year.

In 2022, companies faced rising costs, continued supply chain challenges, and lasting COVID repercussions, especially with Asia’s more cautious reopening. Despite these challenges, brands found novel ways to adapt to rising trends; creating new products and experiences to surprise and delight their consumers. They reimagined offline experiences, ventured into the Metaverse, and redefined standards for ESG.  

Looking ahead to 2023, we foresee continued pressure for businesses and marketers to perform in the face of sustained uncertainties. But we also see more opportunities for brands to rethink their offerings, double down on customer centricity, and build relevance that lasts – for customers and employees alike. 

Below, we share our thoughts on five trends for marketers to keep in mind as we head into 2023. 

1. Expanding the Scope of the CMO 

The role of the CMO and their team will continue to shift as marketing evolves from a predominantly creative function to an increasingly data-driven one. Effective marketing now requires an increased focus on data-driven decision-making, using analytics and insights to understand customer needs and preferences to develop targeted campaigns that reach the right audience at the right time.  

The proliferation of new technologies has opened up a wide range of opportunities and challenges for marketers. However, to gain the lead, marketers must hone their skill sets and strengthen their analytical wheelhouse as their MarTech stack is growing ever larger and more complex.  

With this expanded remit also comes the need for even closer collaboration between marketing and other departments within the organization. For Matt Che, CMO of Budweiser APAC, a close partnership with the commercial team has been critical to the company’s success in Asia: “It’s important to align across marketing and sales teams on what long-term success looks like as well as what challenges might arise in the short term. Collaborating with sales allows us to better identify commercial realities such as pricing, competition, and potential cannibalization within our portfolio.”  

As brands continue pushing for customer-centricity, marketing can continue to elevate the voice of the customer across all areas of the business to drive uncommon growth. 

2. Building Purpose-Led Brands 

Across all industries, a commitment to ESG is becoming expected, if not demanded, by stakeholders. Consumers, employees, and investors are coming from all angles to hold companies to higher standards, expecting not simply a verbal commitment to ESG but tangible policies and practices that reflect these values. Consumers are increasingly choosing companies that take a stand on issues they care about, with 86% expecting CEOs to speak out on societal issues, according to Edelman. Internally, employees are seeking employers who align with their values, and investors are putting record-breaking amounts of capital behind companies prioritizing ESG. More than ever, marketers must strive to build purpose-led brands that translate aspirational visions into pragmatic strategies that contribute to a more sustainable future. 

As an early adopter of sustainable product design and supply chain management, consumer electronics leader ASUS has long been a champion of ESG principles. To further solidify its leadership in this area, the company had been exploring how to make ESG not just an initiative, but a central pillar of future strategic growth. Prophet was tasked with turning ASUS’s ESG strategy into a narrative that could be communicated to both internal and external stakeholders. Our team delivered a comprehensive ESG brand strategy that included a messaging framework, activation ideas, and creative assets to bring the ESG strategy to life, allowing the brand to socialize its core principles effectively and ensure cohesion with the overall brand strategy across both internal and external stakeholders. This ESG strategy was officially launched in the recent ASUS CES 2023 launch event. 

3. Deepening Post-Purchase Experiences 

As marketers are well aware, the customer journey does not end when a purchase is made. To adapt a true customer-centric mindset, brands must not only convince consumers to choose them, but also pay attention to how their customers use their product or service. As customer acquisition costs continue to rise and channel fragmentation intensifies, customer retainment has become an increasingly important growth driver for brands. Holistic customer experience, particularly when it comes to post-purchase engagement, must not be overlooked. In Southeast Asia, nearly 90% of consumers were more enticed to shop somewhere with a loyalty program. In China, we’ve seen an opportunity gap for marketers to focus more on customer lifetime value to find more sustainable and long-term growth, based on findings from Prophet’s latest research “Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story.”  

Many leading brands have started taking steps. Outdoor apparel company, The North Face, wanted to redefine how to deliver its XPLR Pass loyalty program in Greater China to drive higher engagement with Chinese members. The company saw an opportunity to expand the types of benefits provided, going beyond solely monetary rewards to better reflect the brand DNA and further differentiate itself from competitors. As part of the Greater China loyalty program revamp, Prophet developed a unique positioning for XPLR Pass and defined key strategic metrics, data strategy and engagement tactics. This work sets the foundation for the revamped loyalty program to be a key pillar of future growth for the brand in that market. 

4. Meeting Customer Needs Through Demand Landscape Mapping 

Consumers today have access to more information at their fingertips than ever before, making them increasingly sophisticated and discerning shoppers across all categories. As a result, customer segments are becoming more diverse and complex as well, with more variance in mindsets and behaviors. For instance, Asia consumers tend not to be pure luxury shoppers, with 82% of Korean respondents and 72% of Chinese respondents stating that they like to mix and match across premium and mass brands. To develop a brand and product portfolio to meet the nuanced needs of their target audience, brands can leverage demand landscape mapping to understand both where to play and how to win. 

Prophet worked with a leading beverage company to develop its China portfolio strategy based on demand landscape. The company had several local and global brands in the market but wanted to more clearly define the roles of key brands and their anchored demand spaces. By combining quantitative data analysis with strategic insights, Prophet mapped its existing brands to high-value demand opportunities – i.e., specific consumer segment, occasion and drinking needs, as well as identifying key whitespace opportunities for innovation. We further developed clear portraits of priority consumer segments, including holistic understanding of their social context, personal motivations, and lifestyle, enabling the company to better activate the portfolio and brand strategies.  

5. Driving Growth From Within Through Cultural Transformation  

As mentioned previously, workers are increasingly making it a priority to choose an employer that aligns with their values. Organizations know the importance of developing internal branding and communications that are consistent with the external brand, but there’s more work to be done. By taking steps to actively understand and address the needs of their workforce, companies can drive cultural transformation from within. Engaged employees are more likely to be productive, innovative, and collaborative: Within the same organization, highly engaged business units can result in a 23% difference in profitability. In East Asia especially, only 17% of employees report feeling engaged at work (compared with 21% globally) highlighting an opportunity for firms to look inward and close the gap. Whether it’s revamping the company’s values, investing in employee learning and development or driving better collaboration, an engaged workforce is the fuel for a brand’s growth engine. 

Polestar, an electric performance car brand, had aggressive global growth aspirations, with plans to add 50 new spaces and over 700 new employees. With this rapid expansion in mind, ensuring that customer-facing staff were equipped to deliver a consistent customer experience was key. Polestar tasked Prophet with developing a clear customer experience strategy that covered recruitment, training, service, and operations. Prophet created a training curriculum, including eLearning modules, live training events, and self-study exercises, which covered how to tell the brand story, how to respond to customer scenarios, and role-specific guidelines. Prophet’s successful training program resulted in high participation and engagement rates, equipping and enabling customer-facing teams at Polestar to deliver a consistent and differentiated customer experience. 

This article was originally published on MARKETING-INTERACTIVE. 


The game of marketing means always looking ahead to anticipate not only customer needs but also macrotrends, market shifts, and industry changes. Marketers that are able to think proactively, invest pragmatically, and collaborate effectively with their peers will be well-positioned to unlock uncommon growth for their brands in 2023.

Gen Z Revealed:

6 Myths Busted

Gen Z is the target customer of the moment. Though it feels like every brand is out to win them over, too many brands miss the mark when it comes to serving this generation. Prophet set out to understand the truth behind Gen Zs preferred DTC brands and what’s driving their purchasing decisions. Our latest report busts six myths about how to win with this demographic: 


Gen Z reveals the motivations driving purchasing decisions by responding to six myths.

Gen Z is screen-time savvy.

Gen Z prefers authentic creators over influencers, and they like to be the creators themselves.

Gen Z is respectfully outspoken about important issues but avoids face-to-face confrontation in daily life.

Gen Z uses both digital and in-store channels to get what they need.

Gen Z invests in its passions and saves on everything else.

Gen Z feels they compromise their values to purchase more practical options.

Gen Z has at least $360 billion in disposable income, a number that is only growing as they enter the workforce and advance their careers, according to Gen Z Planet. They are quickly becoming the driving force of the consumer market today. 


1. The factors shaping Gen Z shopping behaviors   

2. Six myths impacting what Gen Z cares most about and their buying motivations  

3. Best-in-class examples of brands winning with Gen Z   

4. Actionable steps to reach Gen Z using the DTC Trifecta: Content, community and commerce 

Prophet works with leading DTC companies in establishing and optimizing winning consumer strategies. Whether that’s launching a DTC brand from concept through launch, or updating customer acquisition and retention strategies or expanding into new categories – Prophet is a growth and transformation partner with deep expertise in DTC and all things Gen Z.

Check out the full list of ways we can help your DTC business grow.

Gen Z Revealed: 6 Myths Busted

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Thank you for your interest in Prophet’s research!


Brand and Demand: A New Love Language 

Amid economic uncertainties, successful CMOs say they are developing three new types of marketing fluency.

Whether the economy is heading toward a recession (or already in one), chief marketing officers know their budgets are under intense scrutiny. Our work with CMOs around the world reveals that the most successful marketing execs aren’t just defending budgets. They’re also meeting this moment with new ways of making marketing more effective, translating their efforts into terms and metrics better understood throughout the organization. They’re integrating marketing into more functions. And they’re adapting new languages to drive uncommon growth and business impact through the economic fog. 

In recent conversations with CMOs, we found some common threads on how they are having conversations with their executive teams and driving impact for their organizations. Here are three trends we expect to see more of, especially as the prospect of economic uncertainty means more scrutiny on every marketing investment.  

CMO’s Are Learning One Another’s Love Language 

Okay, it’s not the love languages from those internet quizzes. There are no acts of service, quality time or physical touch. But marketers are finding ways to balance their demand and brand marketing efforts while applying it to business outcomes. The most successful marketing organizations have turned brand and demand, often an antagonistic relationship, into the ultimate power couple.  

Prophet’s recent report shows how they’ve overcome residual antagonism. They are building novel bridges between brand, to drive awareness and build equity and demand or performance marketing, to drive immediate conversion. And in doing so, they’re tapping new growth opportunities. 

Our research finds that the most successful marketers map their brand and demand marketing objectives against shared business outcomes. They integrate planning cycles and share capabilities across brand and demand to maximize marketing budgets over the entire customer journey. They don’t pick between brand or demand. They ensure the two approaches work in concert to deliver shared outcomes. 

Integrating brand campaigns more tightly into the demand function is a good way for marketers to have their cake and eat it too. Aligning brand with demand allows marketers to demonstrate ROI to the C-Suite while also delivering against both functions. 

For those from the brand side, a different vocabulary is required, as marketing is increasingly seen as a revenue driver–not a cost center. Successful marketers are learning the language of the boardroom. They’ve got to replace words like funnels, impressions or brand value with the language of ROI. And it means using proof of impact that meets the C-suite acid test for business impact: Did it increase revenue or not? 

Saying “No” Will Become More Powerful in the Next Planning Cycle 

The current inflationary pressure means marketers have to say “no” more often.  

But rather than feeling discouraged by having to do so, many say they are learning to enjoy that little word more than they expected. It’s empowering them to mothball tactics without proven ROI. And it’s giving them more authority to demand results from their teams and channel partners. By turning thumbs down on the many small investments brands typically make just to “have a presence” or “keep an oar in,” they tell us they’re focusing on the most proven channels. They’re not abandoning the small strategic bets needed to keep their test-and-learn culture thriving, but they are becoming more disciplined about how they are funded. 

CMO’s Are Becoming Integrators Across Many Functional Areas 

Just as they are coming together to integrate their brand and demand functions to unite around a unified business objective, CMOs are emerging as integrators across different functions. That could mean working closely with human resources and developing an employee value proposition for recruiting or it means recognizing that marketing can–and should–take a leadership role in integrations to build organizational culture. 

Breaking down silos is hard work and requires an integrated marketer to lead the charge. The individual filling this role should be a more seasoned marketing professional with the ability to work cross-functionally. And they must be willing to roll up their sleeves and get into the nooks and crannies of the business, immersing themselves in the customer journey in new and different ways. Marketing leaders should be looking to build proactive connections with their colleagues across human resources, product, sales and IT to deliver cross-functional business impact. This integrator mindset will allow them to not only work in lockstep with other business units but if done well, help to uncover untapped pockets of demand.  

Integrating multiple brands and teams requires a cross-functional marketing technology stack, of course. But genuine integration requires a deeper commitment. Many companies have charged people throughout the marketing organization with specific responsibilities to make sure plans are holistic and well-integrated. Others rely on integrative processes, constantly organizing new pods and tiger teams to solve challenges. 

Putting Your New Love Language Into Practice 

For many, the annual planning season is either underway or right around the corner. This is a great reminder to be mindful and refine the language you are using as a marketing leader.  In a recent blog, we wrote about how to modernize the marketing planning cycle. Some questions to consider as you reimagine your approach to your annual marketing plans:   

  • What are the business objectives for your next planning cycle?  
  • Is it clear how marketing directly contributes to those objectives?  
  • Does your organization have an aligned taxonomy around objectives and activities?  
  • How are you measuring success for brand and marketing initiatives investments?  
  • Are those metrics understood across brand and demand teams? Or are those metrics creating siloes between them?  
  • Are those metrics enabling marketing to have a “seat at the table”? Or are those metrics creating distance with other executives/board? 

Download this worksheet to begin mapping your plan to business outcomes. 


To navigate economic challenges, CMOs are using their voices differently. They’re learning to speak a common marketing language. They are saying `no’ more often, with profound growth implications. And they are focusing on a new kind of organizational fluency, integrating marketing throughout multiple functions. Doing so allows them to play a proactive role in figuring out new audiences, leading to rich areas of growth. 

Ready to put your new love language into practice? Contact our team today.


Marrying Brand and Demand Marketing to Drive Sustainable Growth in China 

To break through the crowded and cutthroat landscape of consumer brands in China, marketers must not only drive brand growth but also build lasting brand love.

According to an alarming statistic from market research firm Kantar, 74% of consumer goods startups in China were eliminated after their first three years of operation. Brands are struggling with how to sustain growth in the face of increasingly sophisticated yet “disloyal” consumers while growing competition is being exacerbated by an expansion of channels and consumer data. Meanwhile, a higher level of accountability is expected of marketers. Therefore, marketers today are under intense pressure to make every dollar count, prove returns and drive impact.  

In Prophet’s latest report, “Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story,” we examined how marketers can use both brand and demand marketing to achieve their short and long-term objectives and maximize marketing ROI. Below, we share our learnings from across the globe as well as important nuances for Chinese marketers, unveiling the key to building sustainable brands through balancing brand and demand marketing efforts. 

Brand and Demand Opportunities Throughout the Customer Journey 

Brand marketing typically describes efforts to drive awareness of and preference for a company, product or service, while demand marketing seeks to compel audiences to act immediately (e.g., purchase, click on an offer, sign up for a newsletter). Many marketing organizations experience significant tension between brand building and demand generation – a tension we believe undercuts growth and harms performance.  

Prophet introduces the brand and demand maturity model. It lays out an actionable roadmap for how different stages of a customer journey may lean more on brand or demand. But the opportunity is to always show collective value for each moment. 

Hungry for Growth but Missing Out on CLV 

When asked about their prioritized business objectives, Chinese marketers demonstrate remarkably expansionary mindsets, especially when compared with other regions. They pursue new segments, new business, increased shares and are full of ambitions to expand their reach. However, they tend to focus less on levers that drive CLV (Customer Lifetime Value), such as increasing sizes of orders and repurchase rates. 

Top Priorities in the Past 12 Months

Q: Which of the following business objectives, if any, were the top three priorities for your company in the past 12 months? (Rank 1 results) 

This mentality is likely driven by the fact that marketing teams in Chinese companies tend to shoulder more growth-driven accountability than the average global marketers, with twice the amount of involvement in near-term P&L management, revenue growth and operations. 

This propensity is also evident in the top KPIs Chinese marketers focus on when measuring the success of their marketing campaigns. They are significantly more likely than their global peers to track return on advertising spend (ROAS) and revenue generated, while less likely to consider brand awareness, brand preference and CLV among their top three metrics.  

Top Performance Metrics for Marketing Campaigns 

Q: Which of the following are the top five metrics your company tracks performance of marketing campaigns against? (Rank 1, 2 and 3 results) 

In keeping with the whole customer decision journey, we believe that they place a narrow focus on the left side of the model – persuading customers to choose and buy – while ignoring the enormous potential of the entire CLV contained on the right side of the model – the ownership journey.  

For many of China’s fastest-growing new consumer brands, for example, repurchases, referrals and brand communities are largely being driven by transactional benefits (e.g., free gifts, cash back or steep discounts), instead of brand understanding and advocacy. This is fundamentally still a demand-led approach that is unsustainable in the long term.  

As a next step, in addition to the buying experience and short-term conversion, Chinese marketers should extend CX excellence to the ownership journey to maximize CLV. Meanwhile, a more holistic set of metrics should be used to assess impact and success across all activities and tactics.  

Taking Brand Marketing to the Next Level 

Chinese marketers are particularly skilled at demand generation and have created a variety of effective tactics (private traffic activation, KOL/KOC matrix, etc.) to attract customers. Most new consumer brands succeed by leveraging short-term demand generation tools (e.g., low prices, viral products).  

On the other hand, the explore and advocacy stages, where brand marketing initiatives should take the lead, tend to be undervalued. Brands rarely give consumers the opportunity to actively engage and resonate with the brand’s point of view, story and value proposition. Thus, the customer retention rate fueled by recognition and loyalty is unable to increase due to a lack of brand pull.  

Despite the difficult nature of balancing brand and demand efforts, we’ve highlighted a few examples below of consumer brands in China that are standing out in a highly competitive market by excelling in explore and advocacy. 

PMPM: Attracting New Customers Through an Inspirational Brand Story

(Image source)  

While the beauty industry has long relied on hero products, startup skincare brand PMPM is built on a distinct emotional foundation that speaks to consumer truths. Through a clearly defined value proposition, “spirit of exploration,” PMPM focuses on creating high-quality products with natural ingredients sourced from around the world. The brand’s latest promotional video spotlights its founding team of accredited skincare researchers and beauty experts, telling an inspirational story of the brand’s determination to create a Chinese-born, world-class skincare brand in the next decade. 

Manner: Engaging a Loyal Customer Base Through Shared Values 

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Manner initially won over customers by offering inexpensive but quality coffee to increasingly caffeine-addicted Chinese urbanites and office workers. As the first Chinese coffee brand to introduce the idea of “BYO reusable cup for a 5 RMB discount,” Manner solidified its economic and eco-conscious positioning. Through quality products and a seamless CX that includes mobile order-ahead, repurchase rates increased steadily, and a strong base of loyal customers followed.  

Manner’s additional sustainability and customer engagement efforts, such as giving away branded reusable canvas bags for its 6-year anniversary, have turned customers into eager brand advocates. Compared with other brands in the category that are still trapped in creating complicated pricing schemes to acquire new customers, Manner has moved away from reaping price advantages by connecting with consumers’ values and lifestyles, thus creating a higher and more sustainable CLV. 

Key Takeaways for Marketers in China 

With customer journeys becoming increasingly complex, non-linear and hyper-personalized, the real challenge today is not acquiring new customers, but keeping them.

To wrap up, these are our takeaways for building an evergreen Chinese brand by balancing brand and demand: 

  • Think beyond short-term growth to adopt a broadened and balanced lens for execution and measurement. 
  • CX is not limited to the buying journey. Carefully consider how to optimize the ownership journey as well to fully activate CLV. 
  • Dynamically balance demand and brand across the entire customer decision journey while further increasing branding efforts – particularly in brand exploration and advocacy – to cultivate lasting brand love.


To break through the crowded and cutthroat landscape of consumer brands in China, marketers must not only drive brand growth but also build lasting brand love. Brand and demand marketing have distinct roles throughout the customer journey, but combined, their effect is amplified.

For more insights on how to unleash their power, check out Prophet’s latest report, Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story.


5 Elements Required to Secure Your 2023 Marketing Budget

During times of uncertainty, it’s important your marketing strategies and spend are aligned with business outcomes.

During recessionary times, marketing is often one of the first disciplines needing to evolve and adjust spending. As you enter 2023 planning, you should be prepared to have to make a case for the budget you will need to drive key business outcomes.  

For savvy marketers, this doesn’t mean shutting off in-flight brand and marketing strategies in service of demand generation. Instead, it means strategically aligning marketing activity to business outcomes and articulating the value in terms that resonate with non-marketing leaders—including the board of directors.   

To help you get started, we’re sharing our five critical elements needed to make a case for your 2023 marketing budget.  

Know Your Baseline  

Performance dashboards are often a wise first point of entry for data-minded marketing leaders looking to show real-time insights and build transparency across business verticals and disciplines. At their most robust, such dashboards can bring value across the business by providing a single view of the customer across sales, product and marketing.   

As a starting place, you should have a consolidated understanding of topline metrics that can empower and facilitate discussion around performance and the next best action, which should connect the marketing activity with business outcomes. A data baseline builds accountability and can relieve concerns regarding marketing efficacy. While it may seem obvious in theory, this level of reporting is rarer than one might think.  

When you align marketing activity with business performance, you empower your partners and teams by efficiently attributing c-suite level metrics. Holding companies and traditional media agencies may not be equipped to discuss the possibility of recessionary budget cuts – primarily because many agencies do not align brand spend with business outcomes. At Prophet, we do things a bit differently. As a growth-minded consultancy, we help our clients connect the dots between business objectives and marketing planning, customer metrics and in-flight marketing results.  

Make the Business Case  

From our recent global research, “Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story,” we learned that marketers in the most successful businesses are more likely to cite “customer lifetime value” as a key marketing objective. Whereas, within lower-performing businesses, marketers are more likely to focus on tactic-level measurements, such as “enhancing digital marketing support” and “coordination with channel partners.” While the latter are critical operational goals, they are less growth-oriented and trickier to connect to customer relevancy and business outcomes.  

When making a case for your 2023 marketing budget, ensuring your objectives and the funding needed to execute quantifies the impact on the business will lead to a more successful outcome.  

Developing a marketing budget that delivers a measurable ROI requires a holistic understanding of the business and your customers. Once you have accomplished this, you can map your spending to in-market marketing tactics.  

As you develop a proactive business case for your customer-centric marketing budget, there are three primary areas you should focus on:   

  1. Budget Benchmarking: Your c-suite will not always understand the importance of investing in brand and demand marketing, especially during a recession. To help you justify your budget, you should leverage competitor research to build your budget benchmarks.
  2. Agile Strategic Planning: Building a marketing budget requires investment in off-cycle marketing strategy and planning. Marketers will benefit from correlating their strategies with revised strategic business goals, especially as operating climates and customer needs evolve.
  3. Aligning Marketing and Business Goals: You should ensure your KPIs roll up to topline corporate metrics. We believe this means aligning budgets toward a closer marriage of brand and marketing spend, or what we lovely call at Prophet “performance branding.”  

Benchmarks for Everyone  

You must translate marketing performance into a simple language centered on business outcomes so your C-suite colleagues can understand the impact you can make with the right budget. Benchmarks provide the necessary context on what key metrics mean regarding marketing efficiency and effectiveness and opportunity.   

Finance leaders will want to know how the return on marketing spend compares against peers through the campaign, channel and partner analysis. Sales leaders are concerned with how marketing-owned activities have contributed to revenue generation and how those efforts stack up against industry competitors. Colleagues of all functional areas are interested in marketing insights that identify competency and performance and product gaps and how marketing addresses those opportunity areas.   

A thoughtful spectrum of benchmarks focused on industry and out-of-category leaders and laggards can highlight specific improvement areas where business contributions may be trailing average and high performers.    

Optimize for Agility  

As businesses pivot to accommodate changing economic trajectories, so should marketing function. Marketing teams that are organized to perform against an agile strategic plan are best poised to keep up with evolving customer needs. To build an agile strategic plan, you need to map marketing activities to growth objectives. We recommend leveraging a simple taxonomy to ensure marketing teams are in sync with other departments such as finance, sales and leadership.   

For organizations experiencing more fundamental market shifts or disruption, optimization might require a more robust re-evaluation of investment priorities across operating and execution budgets to support the opportunities that will likely make the most business impact. As customer expectations evolve and go-to-market strategies are upended, marketing planning and overarching program spending must adapt accordingly.   

Embrace a Performance Branding Mentality  

Last is the need to marry the art of marketing with the science of topline fiscal reporting. There is a relatively clear correlation between CFO-level metrics and marketing conversion KPIs for late funnel metrics. However, top-of-funnel, traditional marketing-centric tactics and measurement approaches are rarely understood by non-practitioners.   

What do we mean by that? CFOs are unlikely to understand metrics such as impressions or clicks, especially in a constrained or contracting revenue environment. Downturns are not the time to attempt a profound education on the value of these metrics. Instead, we believe it is critical to put marketing success in terms that the CFO (and other C-suites) can understand.  

Taking a performance branding mentality to your budget can collapse the funnel between brand and performance – and maximize efficacy. Traditional approaches to brand marketing allocate limited rigor in managing upper-funnel digital tactics and media.  

In an inflationary environment where every dollar is being counted, you must deploy a clear understanding of your customer behaviors and preferences earlier in the funnel to apply greater precision to brand spend.  

But it’s important to not over-index on metrics like ROI. Instead, you should evaluate leading indicators for revenue that demonstrate marketing’s influence on growth, such as nurture or account-based progression.   

Prophet has an established baseline framework for evaluating marketing spend. This framework helps translate marketing KPIs to business performance metrics, seeking to integrate brand and demand and create clarity of impact across the organization.

While this can vary slightly by industry, rethinking traditional marketing insights to business-level measurements is the first step in substantiating future marketing budgets. The more you can show a linear impact on business growth, the easier it should be to substantiate marketing spend in support of customer outcomes.  


During times of uncertainty, marketers need to align their budgets to business outcomes and effectively communicate the value in terms that resonate with executive leadership teams. To do so, ensure your budget is customer-centric and includes the performance dashboards, benchmarks and agile plans to make the business case.   

Connect with Prophet today to learn how to build a customer-centric 2023 marketing budget that is aligned with your business objectives.


Is There a New Love Story Between Brand and Demand Marketing in Southeast Asia? 

SEA’s exploding e-commerce scene brings to the forefront the balancing act of brand building and demand generation. 

During my recent keynote at DigiBranCon in Kuala Lumpur, I spoke to a congregation of leading marketers on the dichotomy of brand building versus demand marketing. In the post-Covid-19 era, where digital adoption and acceleration changed everything, should you invest more on brand building or demand marketing?  

The Context: Southeast Asia’s Rising Digital Adoption 

Southeast Asia’s massive e-commerce sector is advancing at a rate that is exceeding expectations. There are over 350 million internet users today and close to 10 million more coming online each year. In SEA, the time spent online has already surpassed the time spent watching TV and the online time spent in China and Japan. 

Brands hoping to engage with SEA consumers must keep in mind the mobile-first nature of the market, with high levels of social media usage and influence. Successful brands are already using social as an e-commerce sales channel, catering to a young population with strong consumer ambitions. Established unicorns such as Grab, Lazada, Shopee, InMobi and Tokopedia are investing heavily in digital commerce and beginning to compete with newer, emerging players in the space. 

The digital acceleration that took place during the pandemic invariably led to more brands shifting sales online. While there is a myriad of factors that lead to success or failure, one key consideration is the tension of brand building versus demand marketing.  

Having a brand that stands out in the sea of competition is especially important online. In e-commerce, becoming a preferred brand is even harder yet critical – how do marketers build brand affinity and grow demand? Given most brands in SEA are small to medium-sized enterprises, this can be difficult given the time and financial investment required. As a result, many brands focus on near-term goals, relying on demand marketing for short-term sales and promotions. While this may convince consumers to make impulse purchases or trials, it doesn’t accomplish the longer-term goal of building true brand loyalty. 

Should You Invest in Brand or Demand Marketing? 

If no one knows your brand, your demand generation isn’t going to be as successful as it could be. You need brand awareness for demand generation to work and vice versa. Your brand establishes your legitimacy, creates loyal customer relationships and helps efficiently drive demand. Demand marketing is more about “Why buy one now?” It involves education and highlighting pain points with urgency. Branding is more about “Why buy from us?” It entails building your reputation so that people choose your product to solve that problem – even though there are likely other options.

As marketers, we know brand strategies don’t always directly connect to a sales pipeline, and demand doesn’t always lead to increased awareness in the market. But when the efforts from both sides are designed to complement each other, we’re able to reach a new, unprecedented level of cohesion across the entire marketing program –creating a powerful growth engine that helps us achieve the goals of: 

  • Building preference for your brand and products  
  • Reducing price sensitivity  
  • Nurturing loyal and repeat customers 
  • Saving costs with improved operational efficiencies 
  • Creating a sustainable revenue stream
  • Higher effectiveness and ROI with our marketing investment  

Prophet’s approach to brand and demand marketing is grounded in recognizing that there is a better way to engage with modern audiences, which is especially meaningful in SEA. It is a sustained, integrated approach that continuously engages with audiences inside and outside the marketing funnel in a value exchange that drives growth for both the audience and the brand.  

How to Strike the Right Balance?  

Is there a magical ratio between brand to demand? The conventional 60/40 brand/demand investment split is helpful but increasingly outdated and doesn’t accurately reflect what any medium or touchpoint can do. It also depends on the market situation and your business goals – the ratio will and should change at any given time to adapt to competitive environments.  

To be good, we need to do both. But to be great, we need a more intentional, unifying strategy. The ideal state is to develop a long-term strategy across the customer journey to build preference, which helps to achieve faster, short-term quick wins during moments when buyers are more receptive to “demand” campaigns.  

There are four golden rules that we identified in our recent, global research

  1. Build a marketing organization that has the skills and capabilities for both brand and demand, with teams working together against a shared purpose
  2. Design your marketing approaches in an integrated fashion starting with annual planning.
  3. Experimentation leads to success. Build a learning agenda and provide an investment budget.
  4. Track performance and progress with an integrated brand and demand view and laddering up to business goals. 

Through expertise and excellent marketing campaigns, you’ll build relationships that showcase how your product really is better than your competitors, and you’ll have a whole audience of loyal fans to back you up on that. The key lies in regularly fine-tuning your brand-to-demand ratios based on the goals of your brand, the product/campaign and audience response.  

A good example is the regional fashion e-commerce brand, Zalora. When it was still a lesser-known brand, it focused investments on building its brand through traditional and social media marketing across Facebook and search engines. Today, as the brand matures, Zalora invests more heavily in demand marketing through strategic brand partnerships and social commerce, while still investing in data-driven Google ad campaigns.  

Brand and Demand Marketing is the Ideal Couple and Content is a Compelling Aphrodisiac 

As we seek out tactics that will lead us to achieve a proper ratio, there has been a trusted hero of the brand-and-demand approach: Content. If brand and demand are the ideal couple to engage audiences, then content marketing is how we amplify the love story of the couple successfully.  

Experienced marketers know that one asset or social post does not result in a subscriber, let alone generate a lead. Trust takes time to develop, and the consistent cadence and drumbeat of a long-term content effort can help to build and nurture real relationships with audiences.  

Like those addictive Korean drama series, if you can produce a steady stream of engaging and compelling content throughout the customer journey, your audience will be more engaged, and your brand messaging and communication will become more appealing. When this consistent drumbeat aligns with memorable brand campaigns, you build brand recognition and earn loyalty across the marketing funnel. 

Through a strategic storyline approach, brands can extend their master narrative and create meaningful audience interactions throughout the entire funnel, ultimately nurturing prospects to conversion, recommendation and ultimately, loyalty. 

Take the Indonesia-based e-commerce platform, Tokopedia, for example. The brand has embedded K-pop in its marketing content to better target its younger and female segments across Indonesia since 2021. Not only did Tokopedia present K-pop groups BTS and BLACKPINK as the face of the brand, but it also created a long-term content strategy to feature Korean artists in its programs, campaigns and events to drive customer acquisition, engagement and sales. This creates a consistent customer experience, delivering key benefits to the target audience along every step of its customer journey, thereby building brand loyalty. 


During the mobile-first digital age, the new marketing benchmark requires an integrated strategy involving both brand building and demand marketing, calibrated to deliver impact based on the maturity of your brand. A balanced mix of both short- and long-term tactics is key to achieving uncommon growth.

At Prophet, we believe content is where brand meets demand – the sweet spot that fosters brand loyalists and fuels consistent ROI that compounds over time. Brand and demand marketing requires delivering a well-thought-out content strategy and cohesive customer experience. Download our global research report, Brand and Demand Marketing: A Love Story, to learn more.