Russell Reynolds Associates: Marketing Moves 2016: Q1 - Q2

To better understand current trends in the appointment and turnover of marketing officers, Russell Reynolds Associates tracked and analyzed 175 notable, publicly disclosed marketing-leadership moves in the first two quarters of 2016.

Industry Breakdown of Marketing Moves

Continuing a pattern we have seen in previous quarters, the consumer sector accounted for just over half (53 percent) of the turnover among marketing leaders. Within the sector, the breakdown was as follows: 16 percent of marketing moves took place in retail – up 4 percent from the final two quarters of 2015, the largest increase of any sector – 14 percent in consumer digital and media companies, 13 percent in consumer products and services, and 10 percent in leisure and hospitality.

The high level of turnover among retail marketing leaders is undoubtedly the result of ongoing industry turmoil, as legacy brick-and-mortar retailers continue to adapt to the reality of multichannel commerce and the rapidly changing consumer landscape.

Internal vs. External Hires

The majority of marketing leader appointments continue to be external hires. As has been the case for the last few years, the first half of this year saw companies looking externally for their marketing executives significantly less of the time (64 percent) than they did in the second half of the prior year (73 percent of the time). Those proportions were consistent with data from the year earlier, with 63 percent of marketing hires coming externally in the first half of 2015, but 84 percent in the second half of 2014.


  • Record turnover. So far, 2016 has witnessed the highest level of marketing-leader appointments and turnover since Russell Reynolds Associates began comprehensively tracking all major appointments four years ago. In the first six months of this year, we recorded 175 marketing-leader appointments, compared to 147 in the prior six months and 134 in the same period of last year
  • Retail volatility. Some industries, and most notably the retail industry, experienced particularly high volatility. Among the top 30 US-based retailers by revenue, 48 percent have turned over their marketing leader in the last 12 months alone. See From CMO to C-Uh-Oh1 for more insight. In the first half of 2016, retail appointments accounted for 17 percent of all CMO hires, up from 9 percent this time last year
  • External hires dominate. The clear majority of marketing officer appointments during the first two quarters were external hires, at 62 percent, as they were in the first two quarters of 2015 (63 percent). Technology companies exhibit the greatest tendency to recruit an external marketing leader, in 86 percent of appointments in the first half of the year Outsiders in financial services. Financial services continued its strong and persistent trend of appointing marketing leaders from outside the sector, with 62 percent of financial services marketing-leader appointments pulling talent from outside the industry. The consumer sector is the source of the most cross industry hires to financial services (50 percent)
  • Insiders elsewhere. The consumer and technology industries maintained their trend of appointing marketing leaders from within their own sectors
  • Gender diversity grows slightly. Women accounted for 40 percent of all marketing-leadership appointments, up one percent from Q3-Q4 2015, and from 34 percent in Q1-Q2 2015.
  • External elevations more common than internal promotions. Of the marketing leaders that left their role in Q3- Q4 2015, only 23 percent were internally promoted to roles like president, chief digital officer, or chief executive officer. However, of those that left their company during that time period, 33 percent joined new companies under similar titles.

To read the full report, click here.

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