What is a Chief Growth Officer?

Marketing Week reports that a number of companies  have appointed Chief Growth Officers, e.g. Coty, Colgate-Palmolive, and Coca-Cola.  So what is a Chief Growth Officer?  Well, there are (at least) 3 options.

  1. It can be a new title for Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).  Maybe it’s a better title, maybe not – I suspect it all depends on the person.  Here, the role is to enhance the company’s marketing capability, to make the marketing department better, wiser, less wasteful, more effective.  And to make the marketing function be seen as capable of contributing to growth and being accountable for growth.  This is a tremendously important role, a never-ending one, where success depends substantially on bringing scientific evidence into the minds (and hearts) of the marketing team.  I wrote about this role previously.
  2. It can be the same role as CMO, but with the additional responsibility of the sales team.  Is this a better model?  I don’t know,  I suspect it depends a lot on the implementation.  The idea of marketing and sales reporting to one boss looks attractive, it might help them work together for the good of the brand(s).  Then again, this may be simply too big a job for one person.
  3. The Chief Growth Officer could be a role distinct from CMO.  Marketing capability is at the heart of the competitive performance of many corporations, as they work in increasingly competitive markets.  Mental and physical availability underpin the value of such companies, so the CMO’s role is vital….But, even with excellent marketing, company growth will be stymied if the company isn’t playing in the growing categories, in the growing markets/countries, in the growing distribution channels.  The job of the Chief Growth Officer can be to make the company better at making these investment decisions.  In this case, the CGO and CMO work side-by-side; the CMO builds a better marketing capability, while the CGO works to make the organisation better at deciding where to apply this capability (and resources).

All of the companies listed above are sponsors of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, a tribute to how they take marketing and business growth seriously.


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