As marketers consider where to allocate their budgets for the new year, there are all-new considerations, opportunities, and potential pitfalls on the horizon. Deciding how to navigate internal and external influences is a matter of understanding technological advances and sociopolitical dynamics—and adapting in real time. Here we’ve aggregated key coming trends for the new year, and given you our POV on how your brand can manage them.
Visual content will dominate search results
The adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words” holds truer than ever before. In fact, it could be considered a prescient trend forecast in itself. Research shows that consumers prefer visual content over plain text. Look no further than the growth of image-based platforms Pinterest, Etsy, and Instagram for validation.
Images are taking over search engines, too. Google’s most recent—as well as upcoming—search enhancements center around image-based search queries and results and are making it easier than ever to find what you’re looking for—even before you knew you were looking!
Currently, Google and Pinterest lead the companies investing in visual search technology. Images are already returned for more than 20% of searches on Google, and a large majority of millennials say when it comes to search, they are more interested in visual search technology.
What does this mean for marketers? It puts a premium on the importance of engaging imagery, meta descriptions, and proactive consideration of what they want their future to look like. So, get to work on realizing that vision for your brand. Just picture it.
Activism vs. slactivism and social justice fatigue
Over the past several years, a host of social justice issues rooted in areas like race relations, women’s rights, climate, and more have garnered broad attention from individuals and, as a result, from brands. But consumers want more than “hashtag slactivism.” They demand evidence of action and impact.
It was easy to post supportive messages following the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade, but consumers want to see broader paid leave for women’s health issues. During Pride Month, we see packaging and logos change to rainbow colors, but consumers demand larger education efforts. And showing support for racial minorities’ concerns via social media is seen as vital, but consumer activists demand companies review hiring practices. It’s a matter of concrete action versus public relations.
But at the same time, an interesting dynamic is taking hold: social justice fatigue. The fighting spirit is still there and likely always will be but shifting concerns follow current events. Issues that dominate consumer concerns have shifted towards:
- Tensions with foreign nations
- Inflation and taxes
- Crime and gun violence
Social justice activism is still important. Consumers demand authentic action. But nearly half (46%) of US consumers have tired of social justice causes1 in light of shifting priorities and developing competition for consumer attention. So, while brands are still held to account for positions on social issues, they would do well to keep an eye on current events both domestically and abroad—and understand consumers’ positions.
1 GWI USA Q2 2020 & Q2 2022
Online identities poised to thrive in the metaverse
Recent negative news and declining investor sentiment in the cryptocurrency space may have moved metaverse news to the back page temporarily, but Web3 is already here, and it isn’t going anywhere. There is a lot about the metaverse that brands should begin to understand.
Independent of the crypto snag, online identities are set to continue developing in the metaverse where adoption will thrive as users realize the tremendous enhancements relative to social media. Not surprisingly, engagement is being led by younger users—online gaming is a factor—but as brands begin to build experiences with gen X and boomer markets in mind, those users should follow.
It is a trend worth watching as 2023 moves along—and as users adjust their behavior, whether it’s reactionary and temporary or permanent.
While the metaverse may not currently be right for your brand, it still warrants your attention. Watch how engaged brands operate. Study their results. And be prepared to pounce when your time is right.
Beauty is in the AI of the beholder
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, AI goes further. AI art generators provide unique, creative images by command—no art school training necessary. We’re seeing a growing number of imaging platforms such as Midjourney and DALL•E 2 on the market that allow users to turn whatever they can imagine into remarkable images.
These platforms rely on huge databases of images to create new art. The AI also learns how images relate to one another for a fine-tuning of the final image.
The rapid advancement of AI technology—and the ability for creative folks to completely geek out on its imaging platforms—virtually guarantee it is here to stay. There are several places AI imagery makes smart sense:
- Ideation: Simply by inputting descriptive prompts and fine-tuning the output, creatives can move more quickly from thought to image to mood board to presentation
- Creation: The near-instantaneous output of AI imagery means thoughts and ideas that come up during presentations can be executed in real time
- Search: Highly specific image search is often fruitless. With AI, not only is the process from input to image faster, it’s virtually guaranteed to produce the desired image
That’s what AI brings—another solution that makes the creative process more efficient and collaborative. Should you forsake original photography and image libraries for AI today? No. But at the pace it is advancing, it’s probably best to get familiar with artificial—for real.
It is impossible to deny the massive influence TikTok has on consumers, businesses, and individual users. But as it continues its growth, there are very real concerns over the app’s aggregation of American users’ data given its association with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. It has been accused of being a massive surveillance vehicle—a literal “spy app”—and has been likened to “digital fentanyl” by congressional watchdogs looking to not only limit its reach but to ban it altogether in the US.
The implications of TikTok becoming the dominant media company in the US are startling and lawmakers in the US are sounding the alarm.
What does this mean for brands in 2023? Well, in planning how to deploy marketing dollars, it’s worth considering the willingness of your consumers to engage on the platform as the TikTok-CCP relationship becomes more widely known. Will TikTok even survive the new year?
The situation is very fluid, and all stakeholders must watch closely, daily, to see whether TikTok remains a viable media outlet—or even exists at all. Engage, yes. But pay close attention to congressional action.
The bottom line
If the forecast for 2023 were to be summed up in a single word, that word would be “dynamic.”
2023 will offer brands increased and exciting ways to connect with targets. But it will require a keen eye and an intimate understanding of evolving habits, shifting priorities, and indeed the sociopolitical dynamics at play in major media.
Ready to ring in the new year? Contact us.