The growth triple play: Creativity, analytics, and purpose

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Biljana Cvetanovski, Orsi Jojart, Brian Gregg, Eric Hazan, and Jesko Perrey for the McKinsey Quarterly, published by McKinsey & Company. To read the complete article, check out others, learn more about the firm, and sign up for email alerts, please click here.

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Companies that integrate creativity, analytics, and purpose are delivering at least two times the growth of their peers.

Key takeaways

  • Only 7 percent of companies are delivering on the growth triple play by unifying creativity, analytics, and purpose. They are driving average revenue growth of 2.3 times versus peers from 2018–19 (which increased to 2.7 times versus peers from 2019–20).
  • In the period 2018–19, companies using just one of the capabilities—either creativity, analytics, or purpose—saw an average growth rate of more than 6 percent. Adding a second component saw growth rates climb to more than 7 percent. For those that employed the full triple play, growth rates climbed to more than 12 percent.
  • CMO’s have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lead growth, as 78 percent of CEOs are now banking on CMOs and marketing leaders to drive growth.

The next normal is the ‘no normal’

The year 2020 was unlike any other, as lives and livelihoods were upended by the pandemic. COVID-19 affected every aspect of our lives, forcing customers and businesses alike to embrace new behaviors, including digital ways of working, shopping, and relaxing. Within a span of a few months, a decade’s worth of e-commerce adoption took place as the pandemic raged, leading to many new, digital-first marketplaces. The normal we all knew was gone. In fact, there was no normal at all.

The historic shifts brought on by the pandemic have also fundamentally changed the role of marketing leadership and the chief marketing officer (CMO). According to McKinsey’s new research, in these “no normal” times, 78 percent of CEOs are now banking on marketing leaders to drive growth.

We looked at how more than 860 executives across the globe are prioritizing investments and capabilities that help accelerate growth. 1 In the process, we uncovered three elements—creativity, analytics, and purpose—that constitute a “growth triple play” that provides at least two times the growth of peers who don’t invest in all three in tandem. Even before the pandemic, companies that had developed all three capabilities were logging double the growth of their industry peers, a margin that only increased once the COVID-19 crisis hit. But even though all three elements are available to most companies, only 7 percent of companies have been able to use them successfully in combination.

To better understand how companies are using the growth triple play of creativity, analytics, and purpose to drive above-market growth, we separated out those that have most successfully integrated all three elements to see what they do differently.

The growth triple play

The companies that use the three elements of the growth triple play together—creativity, analytics, and purpose—achieve dramatically higher average growth rates. The research shows using the full growth triple play can boost average growth rates by 2.3 times compared to companies that don’t use any of the three elements. The results were even more dramatic during the pandemic, when the impact of using the full triple play boosted growth rates by 2.7 times.

That cumulative impact is striking. In 2018–19, companies that used any one of the capabilities—whether creativity or analytics or purpose—saw an average growth rate of more than 6 percent, for companies that added a second component, growth rates climbed by another 15 percent to more than 7 percent, and for those that employed the full triple play, growth rates shot up by 67 percent to more than 12 percent.

Each element of the triple play is critical. Creativity is part of the origin story of marketing. It’s in the breakthrough ideas that have always underpinned bold, imaginative campaigns. The last revolution in marketing was all about the fusion of creativity and data analytics. What’s new today is partly the addition of purpose, the statement of a goal higher than just ringing up the next transaction. Purpose can vary widely, as long as it is true to what the brand ultimately stands for. Says Ann Mukherjee, CEO North America at Pernod Ricard: “Purpose could be about fun. Purpose could be about indulgence. Purpose could be about being a rebel. Purpose could be about saving the world. But purpose must be intrinsic to what the brand’s narrative is.”

The elements of the triple play turn out to be mutually reinforcing. The speed and granularity delivered by analytics is far more powerful when integrated with innovative, breakthrough creative ideas and programs. Both resonate with customers in a deeper way when they are connected to purpose. Triple-play companies that have learned to integrate all three elements are 1.8 times more likely to be in the top quartile of growth within their sectors. McKinsey’s research provides clear insights into exactly how the triple-play companies are deploying the three elements. It is not a theoretical exercise.


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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

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