It’s that time of the year again. Marketers get approached and asked what they think next year is going to look like for the industry. At the pace of the changes we have witnessed this year, it feels futile to predict what next year has in store for us.

Maria Hachem, Business Lead for New Balance EU at Mediahub UK

I mean, think about it. No one could have predicted 2020. It changed the face of marketing, shook the industry up quite a bit, resulting in an unpredictable cocktail 2022 made of budget crunches, budget influxes and strategy flips. It led us to rethink the way we allocate and plan. No one could have predicted Meta cutting 13% of its global workforce this month either, the first heavy job cut at a company that went from humble beginnings in a Harvard dorm room in 2004 to a giant monolith around the world thanks to its trio of apps. Big Tech faced sharp valuation downfalls this year, and this is surely ringing some alarm bells across the industry.

But despite all the changes, some things stayed and will likely remain the same. Every year will be the year of the customer. Technologies such as AI and data-driven marketing will continue to grow. Short-form social video is here to stay off the back of creator innovation in youth-based social networks. And perhaps the biggest prediction really isn’t too unpredictable at all…

The overarching focus will be on people, not technology.

2023 will roll out the shift to short term-ism

2022 saw marketing and advertising budgets come under increasing pressure and heavy scrutiny from finance directors in the volatile and unpredictable marketplace, pressuring advertisers to shift to short-term survival strategies.

WFA and Ebiquity conducted a study together to assess the intentions of 43 multinational companies. The sample included 5 of the world’s top 10 advertisers by spend, which collectively invest more than US$ 44bn in advertising.

The results show that budgets are under pressure and there are signs of retrenchment into short-term performance channels at the expense of brand building. Brands will increasingly be required to achieve more with less which will lead to expenditure assessment and cuts in ineffective and wasteful spend.

In short, there will be greater emphasis on short-term, performance marketing. There will be increase in spend across digital, and offline media is likely to suffer. The focus on short-term will likely see a move towards more flexibility in investment, shifting away from the way media is bought particularly on digital channels, allowing brands to hold back funds, should the economic conditions dictate.

So what is 2023 going to look like? In my humble opinion of course.

Marketing will return to its essence – connection

Trust is without a doubt the new currency of business, and as brand builders we are now quickly realizing that up until this year we believed we are much more trusted than we truly are, and what a slap in the face that has been. Customer revenue losses and employee loyalty rate drops have been attributed to the loss of trust, and businesses are having to repair fractures and move closer to the customer’s inner circle of trust, and the only way to move closer is to be openly communicating with a user that now has full control over the messages they would like to receive.

With the customer in control and brands having to adapt their approach, 2023 will likely see brands prioritizing their short-term performance and revenue goals over long-term brand building strategies in priority to stay afloat.

Owning the CX

So you have established trust, the most important yet challenging component of all. Customer expectations are higher than ever and word of mouth travels fast.

What now? I’d say the second to most important ingredient to your 2023 strategy is building world class customer experiences that will keep people coming back for more and new people coming in. And in 2023, that goes beyond being mobile first and having a super cool user interface: Efficiency, convenience and friendliness can help you win customers, keep them happy, and turn them into lifetime brand advocates. Amazon is the first example that comes to my mind when it comes to mastering the CX

As the customer becomes even more empowered, CX is an area that will need constant nurturing and care and, with a greater focus on customer experience strategy, you will be able to achieve a positive impact on customer loyalty leading to higher retention and increased revenue growth.

The shoppers of tomorrow – every touchpoint will count

With consumers taking control and advertisers taking the back seat now, advertisers are left in control of one thing – the content of their messaging. New trends & technological advances will keep on emerging, but the root of everything we do is everlasting: Understanding the needs of our audience.

Depending on how good the message is, how well it resonates with the audience, how involved they feel and to what extent they are co-creating the experience, the brand-customer relationship of tomorrow will be built across every touchpoint: from what a brand says to what it does. Empowering the omnichannel experience and making every touchpoint count with data is what is going to help businesses succeed.

Web3 To Deliver A Future Of Utility, Value And Empowerment That Benefits Everyone

In the current market ecosystem, much of what we see defined as web3 is actually similar to the principles of Web 2.0, as in centralized platforms linked to blockchain transactions. A centralized model might have its upsides, but with data ownership taking the front seat, we should start seeing the future really take shape. And that is most likely going to become more and more apparent in 2023. Web3 is still in its early premature stages. We are not where we need to be just yet.

Also, not to ring any alarm bells, but South Park is already tackling NFTs, which means we have a lot of work to do.

Ideally, in my mind, I would like to see a more decentralized technology ecosystem that contributes to the good of the community beyond the hype. I’d like to fast forward the dark side of social media and the worshipping of big tech (including the NFT hype).

Data democratization and ownership must be at the top of our priorities if we want to be part of the future. So the industry does have a lot of responsibility to take on to foster a more equitable and sustainable society and a better world for all.

To summarize: in a year where your customer controls the narrative, it looks to me like businesses respecting the boundary and focusing on establishing solid relationships with their audiences is what is going to make them stand out, keeping 4 key pillars in mind: Community, Connection, Privacy, Relevancy.