CMO Council surveys marketers globally on COVID-19 impact

by Louise Burgers. The global CMO Council wants to hear from all marketers and retailers on how they are strategising for the COVID-19 crisis. Take the survey now.

by Louise Burgers. Marketers and retailers globally are formulating crisis strategies to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus. The international CMO Council wants to know what you are doing to ready your business to deal with this unprecedented global threat to human life and our economies.

The CMO Council, which represents Chartered Marketers from around the world from the biggest FMCG companies and brands, sent out the survey this week as the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Founded in 2001, the CMO Council serves as the “premiere peer-powered network for senior marketing decision makers. It is the only global network of executives specifically dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wider range of global industries”.

This is what Donovan Neale-May, CMO Council executive director, said in a statement: “The domino-effect of the coronavirus is swamping marketers with a new set of demands, distractions and diversions… whether you are working from the office or not. The chain-reaction is impacting every facet of marketing planning, campaign execution, budget allocation, supply chain provisioning, channel sell-through and experiential customer engagement.

“How are you responding, adjusting and re-directing during this growing public health crisis and global containment effort? The CMO Council is fielding a short marketer assessment poll with just six questions that can be answered quickly to give our members a sense of both the impact and implications for those dealing with the economic, operational, and emotional reverberations and fall-out. Please take just a few minutes to participate in our online survey,” he urged marketers.

Neale-May asked Retailing Africa to send out the survey link to encourage marketers and retailers in South Africa and on the continent to add their views, even though South Africa and most of Africa has not yet experienced the level of disruption to business on the ground, as has happened internationally. Local retailers have already, however, warned of stockouts of various imported products. Take the survey now.

What retailers say

Internationally, reports in How retailers are navigating the coronavirus, that a survey of the CEOs and business executives on the Fast Company Impact Council reveals 40% say their production lines are getting makeovers, with most focusing on diverse options and avoiding bottlenecks, and nearly all have had employees cancel work trips. “For retailers, the coronavirus is a stark reminder that global supply chains can be disrupted quickly and with dramatic effect,” Keith Jelinek, managing director and co-leader of Berkeley Research Group’s retail and consumer practice, said in a press release. “While the primary concern is the public’s health, the long-term implications are significant for retailers of all sizes.”

Reports of empty store shelves are hitting the US now as shoppers stockpile supplies, according to, which lists the following product categories being targeted by consumers: hand sanitizer sales spiked 313.4% for the one-week period ending February 29, according to Nielsen Total US (retail) dollar sales data. Other spikes for the week include oat milk (up 322.5%); fresh meat alternatives (up 158.3%); and thermometers (up 80.4%); and household maintenance masks (up 475%).

Contactless delivery is the new buzzword

Expect contactless delivery to become the norm in the near future according to and this is an opportunity for local startups to scale. Crises breed innovation and anyone with a solution to assist people in getting medications, groceries, any delivery they need, will be a winner. Retailers take note.

Less in-store contact is another trend identified by trade media overseas, with sampling being suspended, disposable cups-only at Starbucks and other fast food outlets, as well as how staff contact with consumers is managed.

CMO Council SURVEY: Take the survey now.


Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


– Receive the Retailing Africa newsletter every Monday and Thursday. Subscribe here.