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Read or listen to articles published in this section and via BartonRock’s Digital Careers podcast series – also featuring interviews with high profile business leaders internationally.

How Data Has Streamlined the Role Of the CMO

Just a few years ago the technology, sales & marketing functions would have all be clearly defined. With the avalanche of data now available, these roles have become inextricably blended, and the expectations placed on CMOs to account for every penny spent has never been greater.

To explore this topic further I interviewed Gareth Jones, Global Chief Marketing Officer for Farfetch, a publicly-listed, online luxury fashion retail platform that sells products from over 750 boutiques and brands from around the world.

Gareth explains that data has irreversibly changed the traditional marketing funnel concept, where previously top of the funnel roles were focused around the more creative and imaginative functions and the technical data driven roles were more focused around the bottom of the funnel.

“Nowadays we refer to that funnel having completely collapsed and the thing that is compressing it is increasingly a business marketing focus on audience, fuelled and powered through data.”


Gareth goes on to explain the six foundational pillars of data marketing within a consumer-driven company.

“The first pillar is around defining scope. Those are often problems that are common across departments and multiple disciplines. And so having a cohesive data strategy must be something that unifies multiple departments across the business.

The second pillar then becomes what is the underlying data – the models, and the data science that you’ll be deploying. One of the things that we’re intently focused on now is an enhanced profit understanding of both a customer and an order level. Having a clear understanding of the underlying data that you need, helps to determine what we would do, for instance, with our bidding strategy in Google and all the engineering that necessitates that real time input of data. 

The third pillar becomes segmentation. So, what logic the data science models require for each of those use cases. And then how do you orchestrate that cross channel in a relevant and personalised way.

The fourth pillar is your tech. What’s the sort of stack that you need to enable? And then do you buy it, build it in-house or do you rent or borrow? There’s a very good business response to that question that should enable you to connect across your user experience, which is fifth pillar.   

And then the final one is, how do you measure all of that, report on it, and what sort of actions then do you take moving forward? How do you manage those customers across the lifecycle? How do you acquire them as you activate? How do you get them keeping buying from you? So for us that is about frequency of purchases, share of wallet goals and then finally as you grow, retaining those customers”

Online Experience

The impact of Covid on the ‘brick and mortar’ boutiques had a dramatic effect which catapulted the online retail world of FarFetch into the homes of new consumers.  On re-opening this change has promoted luxury brands such as Chanel to attempt to blend the physical and online highly personalised shopping experience using fashion DNA purchasing behaviour.  Ideas such as physically presenting complementary brands to showcase to in-store shoppers, blending what you might browse online with a real word experience. Using an almost ‘cookied’ experience where shoppers will be recognised by sales advisors and bring your wish list into the changing room or feeding stylist advice into the screens of your changing room are all being trialled right now.

“As the number of channels and opportunities to reach customers is exploding so are the tactics we can use to engage with them. What hasn’t changed is the underlying principle of what we should be doing in marketing which is the lifecycle management of attracting people and retaining them.  The top and bottom of the funnel may have fused but data gives us the means to target consumers in the emotional storytelling brand space.  You’ve got the forensic capability to target brand activity and build an emotional connection with customers.”

I asked Gareth what advice he would have for marketing execs who are shooting for the C suite. Here were his thoughts.

“Career paths today are very different to the more linear paths than in my time.  Increasingly people are making a more latticed, sidestepped approach, thinking about the job they might be taking in two or three jobs time as a springboard onto that five-year plan. From a recruiting point of view companies should be looking for the ability to execute not necessarily skills.  Marketing is moving so fast with so many new opportunities in channels to market, the brilliance is often enshrined in more youthful practitioners. We need to be thinking where does that top talent come from, and where do you need to uncover it today to feel that progression tomorrow? I’m thinking specifically about apprenticeships, about looking for that talent in the non-typical places, where people haven’t maybe gone to university, shattering the source of prejudices about that candidate pipeline”

Career Lattice Or Ladder?


For more help and advice in finding your next CMO contact me.

Guy Day is Founder and Director of BartonRock, an executive search firm that specialises in hiring senior executives for digitally transforming companies. For more information visit

About BartonRock: We are the executive search partner for companies where data-driven digital leadership is intrinsic to growth.

We manage the careers of leaders whose know-how and commercial acumen within digital steers the strategic direction and future survival of companies.

Our assignments search for executives who understand how to implement and lead data-centric digital agendas.

For more information visit: or contact or call +44 (0) 20 8092 6048.

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