Today, consumers seek more localized and personalized shopping experiences that are relevant to their cultural and behavioral context, yet 73 percent of global marketers feel, “only partially prepared” to meet those expectations—this according to CMO Council’s report, “Reshaping Global Engagement Operations: Optimizing the Resonance and Relevance of Localized Marketing Initiatives.”

The CMO Council surveyed 350 global marketing leaders on their marketing operations for a closer look at the pros and cons of centralized and decentralized operational structures. The data suggests that these structures may be driving a wedge between brand and customer, and is a major factor in marketers’ inability to execute local, global and omnichannel campaigns in a timely manner.

As a result of gaps across marketing structures and strategies, brands are missing the mark and leaving opportunity (and money) on the table. Unfortunately, 77 percent of respondents said they believe they’re “not reaching the full revenue potential of today’s connected customer.”

In order to develop a truly relevant, profitable relationship with customers, brands are focused on improving engagement strategies as 51 percent said driving growth is a primary strategic focus. Nevertheless, marketers aren’t confident about delivering these initiatives—a mere 10 percent feel confident they’ll reach their strategic goals for 2019 with their organization’s current capabilities. 

When asked what stands between strategy and success, 59 percent of marketers considered budget limitations their top issue, followed by a shift in senior leadership priorities. Beyond these organizational shortcomings, however, strategies aren’t fulfilling customers’ three major demands, which includes data security, privacy and accountability. Only 20 percent said their organizations are prepared to meet the aforementioned needs. This finding reflects the fact that some brands are willing to lose customer trust and engagement in the name of efficiency and effectiveness. 

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that the lack of localized intelligence (due to accurate tools and analysis) had a negative impact on their ability to execute successful campaigns.

As for operational structures, marketers are grappling with the fact that completely going one way or another—totally centralized or totally decentralized—has led to deficiencies. “Structures of extremes result in outcomes of extremes: organizations are either highly efficient or they are highly connected to the customer,” the report says. On that same note, 42 percent of marketers admit that centralization means that strategies and campaigns are often out of touch with the local customer. Where centralized companies admit leaving the customer behind, decentralized companies exchange customer proximity for efficiency. The advantage that decentralized structures have over centralized ones is that highly localized units can leverage local skills and talent.

Neither operational structure, the data suggests, is optimal for reaching and capturing a brand’s targeted audience. The solution to bridging the gap between consumer and brand is adopting a hybrid model that merges the benefits of each structure, namely adopting a heightened understanding of the customer, optimizing spend as well as more prudent decision making.