Marketing in Transition - How to Navigate as a CMO in a Digitised and Data-Driven Economy: A Study on Today’s Marketing Function

Melissa Eriksson & Sofie Møller Pedersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Companies are seeing an increasing flow of data that generates opportunities and challenges, especially in marketing. This thesis investigates why the increase in data availability has consequences for strategic decisions within the marketing function and how a CMO should navigate this. The thesis follows a mixed-methods design and initiates on the philosophical basis of social constructivism, where primary data is gathered through qualitative research in the form of interviews. Inductively, the purpose is to observe singular cases and conclude on this basis. Hence, seven marketing experts are interviewed, and four hypotheses created by extension. In line with critical rationalism, the hypotheses are attempted falsified to demonstrate generalisable knowledge for use in the marketing sphere. Deductively, this is done through a quantitative survey, testing the hypotheses among a higher number of observations.
This is analysed through marketing, strategy, management, and data literature, and a theoretical ‘strategy tripod’ with an industry-based, institution-based, and resource-based view. This structure provides a macro-, meso- and micro-level analysis. At macro-level, a power shift away from companies in terms of size, brand, and capital, and towards connected consumers and continuous disruption is evident, just as data alters competition and profitability in industries. At meso-level, the institutional framework presents a rise in privacy concerns. A long-term focus on data protection may enable differentiation through superior personalisation or customisation, incorporating the interests of stakeholders while monetising the value of data. At micro-level, it is crucial not to solely possess data, but to have it strategically anchored and organised to create value with optimal resource allocation and support functions. The CMO should focus on company culture and business change, decision-making and stakeholder management, technology, talent management and leadership. The quantitative tests indicate an increased representation of data within marketing and in strategic decision-making. However, this does not entail improved decision-making nor optimal exploitation. Instead, a strategy for data usage is related to improved strategic decision-making.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages183