FEATURED ARTICLE DEC 2022:
Top 5 marketing trends for 2023
By HARRIETT TYPE, Account DIRECTOR – CREATIVE & DIGITAL
It feels like the world is in overdrive with constant and sometimes dramatic changes being the norm. Post pandemic we should have had a chance to reflect and rebuild. However, much of Western Europe is in constant flux with war in Ukraine, soaring inflation, increases in fuel prices, staff shortages and issues with the supply chain. Nevertheless, as always resilience shines through and progress continues. We have highlighted the top 5 marketing trends for 2023. These will help you stay on top of positive changes in the market and adapt your business strategy to make the most of opportunities.
#1. The Changing Face of the High Street
For years the industry experts have been reporting on the death of the high street. It feels like every day we hear that more bricks and mortar retailers are either going bust, or online only. This trend was seemingly accelerated by the covid pandemic. Consumers were forced to shift to online buying on a scale never experienced before. Even in wealthy areas there are empty retail spaces and an endless supply of charity shops.
Recent research by the BBC examining changes in the establishments in the ‘points of interest’ contained in Ordnance Survey from March 2020 to March 2022 has shown a key insight. Instead of the death of the high street, we are seeing a shift from traditional retail use to a focus on experiences and service-led consumption.
The report has highlighted a few trends, which are not a huge surprise. The biggest fall in high street presence is department stores, which have seen a decline of 13.4% in the two-year period of the report. Department stores have been experiencing a decline for several years with reports that 83% of the UK’s department stores have closed since 2016. Also, somewhat unsurprisingly, is the disappearance of the humble bank branch from the UK’s traditional high-street with a decline of 8.1% reported in the BBC’s article. There is a whole generation of people who have had little or no reason to visit a physical bank in their lifetime as online banking has become the absolute norm.
The venues on offer in the high-street tell us an interesting tale. It appears that the focus is shifting from places to buy things to places to have experiences. This includes meeting friends, enjoying food as well as looking and feeling good. The highest percentage increase in outlets was in tattoo and piercing studios which saw an 8.2% increase. Hair and beauty venues increased by 5.9%. Buoyed by the Covid trend fast food and takeaways saw an increase of 7.2%. Bouncing back after the pandemic are cafes, which increased by 5.7% and pubs and bars by 1.6%. Interestingly however are nightclubs which have declined by 9.4%.
The shifting trend in high-street usage creates an interesting opportunity for new brands and also for established brands to reinvent themselves. They can tap into the desire to ‘do more’ and not simply focus on shopping.
#2. Hybrid versus remote working
Remote and hybrid working is at an interesting crossroads. Since the impact of Covid we have experienced a staffing shortage at a level not seen for many years. This has shifted the balance of power to the employee. It has allowed them to make demands, notably flexibility and the opportunity to work from home, 100% remote or hybrid. Research undertaken by the Office of National Statistics has found that 85% of employees currently working from home want a ‘hybrid’ approach therefore both home and office working
However, as the recession begins to bite, and employees feel less secure in their jobs, will companies start trying to get them back into the office? The debate about productivity continues to rage with most employees stating that they are more productive whilst a certain proportion of management teams continue to doubt this. This ‘productivity paranoia’ may influence some companies to try and reduce remote and hybrid working. However, the current trend is continuing to move towards hybrid working, specifically with a decline in 100% remote working.
Hybrid workers in the UK currently represent 24%, whilst remote is 14% (Office of National Statistics). In reality, the recession will present yet another opportunity for hybrid working to become further ingrained in the UK work culture. Companies will be investigating ways to cut costs and reduce overheads and downsizing offices further will support this.
So, it looks like hybrid working is here to stay. In 2023 we will see how the hybrid culture is embedded further in work culture. We will also see how technology is developed to create productive, happy and effective teams.
#3. – The Metaverse will be Embraced
The metaverse was a much anticipated and exciting development in 2022 and is one of the top marketing trends for 2023. Whilst Meta (formerly) Facebook might have been a little premature with its launch they have undoubtably made an impact. The efforts in being the first to the market on that scale are likely to pay off.
In 2023 we will see early adoption by progressive companies as they begin to test the metaverse out and explore how they can apply it tangibly to their business. We forecast that there will be a few key departments which quickly start to find effective uses for this platform. The combination of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (AV) now has a space in which it can co-exist. It provides an innovative digital world to collaborate, solve problems and also practice in a way not seen before. It is claimed that by engaging in the metaverse it allows people to learn faster and retain information more easily. Additionally it helps the management of learning and increases interactions by up to 75%.
- Initially it is likely that the first adopters will be industries which deal with high-risk environments. It is attract companies where training itself can be difficult and potentially dangerous. The metaverse will provide a safe and easy to control virtual space where the learner can be immersed and engaged. Companies which will see this benefit range from manufacturers, energy providers, through to specialised engineering and medical professionals.
Over time, however, the metaverse will become increasingly common within more mainstream learning and development team platforms in larger organisations. The metaverse supports a culture of hybrid working, whilst providing a new and improved way to interact and engage with leaders and colleagues.
- A natural way for the metaverse to become the norm in the working day is the use of AR and VR for meetings. It is reported that over 90% of UK workers are having up to four virtual meetings a day. A survey undertaken by JLL reports that 50% of companies plan to introduce immersive technologies and virtual reality as soon as 2025. The metaverse will take virtual meetings to the next level; it will also provide ways to help teams collaborate more effectively. Although it will also allow them to bond in a way that virtual calls cannot, it will never be as good as physical interaction, but offers the next best solution.
- The metaverse can go beyond gaming and corporate use. It can be used to effectively enhance many elements of digital marketing which are already established and take them to the next level. For example, online shopping, events, direct selling, online demonstrations. The list is endless.
The roll out of the metaverse is going to be an exciting journey and will creep into everyday life before we even realise it.
#4. Growing Investment in Women’s Sport
It is almost impossible to think that women were banned from played certain sports only 50 years ago. In fact, women were only allowed to play football on affiliated grounds from 1971. They only started to compete in marathons and be professional jockeys early in the same decade as the cultural acceptance of equity began to grow.
The rise of women’s football and women’s rugby has had a halo effect on many other women’s sports. Sports like hockey are also being propelled into the mainstream. As these sports attract increased viewership, they draw more investment, as well as sponsorship and advertising.
“Investors are just beginning to realise that women’s sports are more than just football, and the opportunities are enormous,” Jon Patricof, CEO and co-founder of Athletes Unlimited.
Recent research undertaken by YouGov shows growing demand for women’s sport, particularly among younger audiences; specifically, 44% of global sports fans aged 18-24 preferred watching women’s sport over men’s compared to only 16% among the 55+ age group.
Many experts think that women’s sport is a better focus for sponsorship and advertising investment as it is currently a lot less cluttered, and the competition formats are more flexible. Many men’s sports by comparison are very congested. There too many investors competing to make a return; plus, strong incumbent rights holders prevent and new entrants from participating.
For brands there is a huge opportunity to get involved with women’s sport in an authentic and supportive way. It is not a question of whether they should get involved but how. Brands that find a sensitive and elegant way to be involved will reap the benefits for years to come.
#5. The Rise of Social Media Micro Communities
The global pandemic has had an impact on pretty much everything we do. Our consumption of online content and specifically social media is no exception. Numerous lockdowns allowed us to take a look at ourselves and what made us feel happy and content. It also encouraged us to reach out and communicate with people and groups who had similar interests and beliefs. A huge number of these communities could be found within the social media giants of Facebook and Twitter. However many people have turned to smaller more niche sites to find the communities that interest them. This is a trend which will only continue to grow in 2023 as users search for the authenticity that the likes of Facebook and Instagram cannot provide.
Sites like BeReal which has seen an increase of download of 315% since beginning of the year. This platform currently has no pay to advertise opportunities and no filters or edits. Another site which is seeing growth is Discord. Originally developed for gamers it is transitioning into a chat-focused social media platform. It doesn’t provide paid ad opportunities, however brands can get involved by creating servers or spaces on the platform. It is a great way for brands to find out more about their consumers and engage at much deeper level.
The social site Twitch was also originally set up for gamers and has over 15 million active users. This platform naturally lends itself to other content and now sees users engage with everything from cooking to music, make-up tutorials and crafts.
Another site which is growing in popularity is Supernova, which has a TikTok and Instagram feel. It is dedicated to providing a 1% donation to charity for all advertising spend on the site. It also prides itself on a high level of content moderation.
Other social channels which are seeing an increase in downloads in the last year are Telegram, Parler, Gab, Signal, Rumble and the recently launched Social Truth to name just a few. These social platforms have a much more political positioning and are based on unmoderated free speech and expression.
Fragmentation and diversification in social media platform engagement will continue to rise in 2023 especially amongst a younger audience as people seek to find their tribe. Marketing professionals will need to find ways of building and connecting with communities to stay in touch and reach their key audiences. They will need to focus less on targeting individuals and focus more on resonating and being part of a community and a movement.
In summary, the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis and Ukraine war, although important, will not hold back progression and change. We will see technology continue to make disruptive changes to how we carry out our everyday lives. The drivers behind this disruption will be our human need for interaction. A trend mirrored in the physical world where our high streets become places for experiences and meeting with friends and family. We will see women’s sport develop and grow at a rate not known before, driven by our need for equality. So in terms of the top 5 marketing trends for 2023, brands who focus on these human needs will be the ones who win in 2023.
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