Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has witnessed accelerated change in how we connect, what we expect, and what our priorities are. Digital has become the dominate means of communication with brands now realizing that an online presence is no longer an add-on, but a necessity. This rapid transformation was driven by the need of both brands and customers to adapt to this new structural paradigm shift that has given rise to numerous opportunities. 

Even within stagnating or uncertain economies, creativity in business and media remains the most crucial tool brands have in their arsenal. It is these moments when brands must use creativity to pivot towards adapting and adopting emerging market behavior, new channels and platforms, and embracing technological trends.

As we approach 2023, these are a few of the most significant trends marketers will need to take into consideration for the coming year:

The Value of Values

As we collectively move towards becoming a more diverse and inclusive society, we have also grown a greater appreciation and responsibility for issues like sustainability and growth for good, making them intertwined with consumer choices. While previously confined within the parameters of products and services, the pandemic has revealed the power brands have in engendering meaningful change within society. Brands who have taken on this responsibility have not only been lauded by consumers but rewarded for their emotional intelligence in taking positive steps, or providing the tools and resources needed to help people through difficult times.

With this growing expectation from customers, brands have adopted relevant social causes and built communities of individuals and organizations that act under one, unifying purpose – a purpose driven by societal rather than personal interests.

Ad-based Video on Demand (AVOD) Devours Subscription VOD (SVOD)

Consumers have shown a strong intent in migrating to new plans with time spent on ad-funded video streaming platforms, which is now expected to overtake subscription channels.

Another prominent communication opportunity can be seen in the advent of Connected TV (CTV). In addition to providing more interactive and innovative means to connect with consumers, CTV’s growth implies that advertising can be more granularly targeted to broadcast TV advertising – creating exciting avenues to explore such as shoppable ads and smartphone connectivity.

Leveraging these new opportunities, brands should look beyond traditional advertising, invest in commercialization, and capitalize on multi-screen potential.

Content Authenticity and Interactivity

Raw vulnerability of content through authentic communication, real-time content, and relevant collaborations has now become expectation rather than a nice to have. Consumers seek out brands that resonate with them on an emotional level, ones that they can project human attributes on and see in them a reflection of themselves.

It is this desire that has deepened consumer appetite for authenticity from both brands and creators – a desire now facilitated by social platforms introducing features and innovations such as Instagram Reel reaction stickers and TikTok’s video stitching that foster two-way communication.

Upholding values through transparent communication and opportunities for cocreation is integral for brands seeking to create meaningful connections with their consumers. By involving  users in the success of campaigns through, brands can create a stronger sense of sincerity and identity.

Impulsive Shopping

Commerce has proliferated into more and more digital channels, transforming shopping into a perpetual mindset rather than a conscious activity. This, coupled with the change in consumer purchasing behavior stemming from economic inflation, the prevalent sentiment amongst the diminishing middle-class, is an almost ubiquitous acceptance of the debt economy and subsequent fintech solutions.

Converging and diversifying, commerce has extended into all aspects of daily life with media platforms, especially social and video, now structured to monetize users and serve as sales points – while commerce websites have begun to invest more heavily in media performance. Even apps that, historically, have served only one function are vying to compete in the attention economy by appealing to users on more occasions.

While sparking debate on privacy and the degree to which brands are allowed to invade community spaces, it is crucial for marketers to test and understand the efficacy of platforms to better develop native and frictionless commerce experiences for consumers.

The Crystal Ball of Social Algorithms

One of the most successful implementations of social algorithms has been TikTok’s for You page which struck the perfect balance between new and preferred content. This “TikTokization” model is now considered the winning formula with other social platforms attempting to replicate its success and provide users with content that they didn’t know they needed.

With this shift, feeds have become an algorithmically generated representation of observed interests and popular content rather than follows.

Brands will need to develop new creative-based strategies that capitalize on the changes in social algorithms while remaining flexible enough to accommodate emerging trends. While driven by automation, effective social content is still defined as engaging, relevant, and timely.

Game On!

It is no longer news that gaming has hit the mainstream and is now considered one of the most diverse and inclusive platforms internationally. The addition of games and gamification features within websites and apps is one tactic brands have utilized to attract and retain users.

Now, with the two leading mobile-first apps, Snapchat and TikTok, introducing games in some countries as a way of engaging more users, gaming is fast becoming a key component in ensuring lasting relevancy while providing entertaining incentives. More recently after acquiring Heardle, Spotify has incorporated a music-based game into their platform that challenges players to identify new songs.

If brands want to stay on the leaderboard, it is imperative that they begin investigating the potential of gaming as both a platform and content form. Exploring this approach should begin by establishing the level of involvement required by the consumer and then further exploring ideas with preexisting technology partners to extend current campaigns onto new platforms.