Consumer Predictions for 2023

Will we care less in 2023?In the last year we’ve ventured through the “post-Covid” era.
Will we care less in 2023?

In the last year we’ve ventured through the “post-Covid” era. We’ve witnessed war, inflation, and an energy crisis wage. Impending economic shifts loom as the world of tech gets turned on its head, and Silicon Valley Bank follows suit. It’s safe to say we’re somewhat tired and jaded, and all the trends and predictions tell us we’re entering a new period for consumerism. And we ask, is this a new phase of caring less?

There’s a fresh train of thought emerging amongst marketers, and it’s time to question what our consumers are thinking about for the coming months and beyond. Legacy brands like the best known soft drinks are freshening their identities, a sense of nostalgia is transferring across content (think the Barbie movie and Lacoste x Netflix). 

And as we’re facing more and more life pressures, is the need to put our values first, understandably, becoming less and less? Are we experiencing a shift towards total ‘values abandon’ and is the concept of ‘caring, guilt and mindfulness’ making way for a desire to have fun and feel good no matter what? And with this potential shift, are we seeing space for a new kind of marketing? 

Don’t get me wrong, innately we still want to connect with the brands who align with us, who display authenticity and a commitment to who they are and what they stand for. That will always be at the core. But we know all that now. We’ve spent years building that, forging it, creating an indestructible relationship with the audiences we want to connect with, so is it time to just, have a little fun? Be entertained? Not need depth and meaning in everything we absorb? I think we might be allowed that, at least for a time. 

We’re talking about a new space for the type of advertising that’s shiny and sexy, empty and frivolous, and makes us think, this is the product that’s going to make me feel good, not because it's changing the world, but because it will change my world, just for a moment, and just a little. Just enough to bring a spark of folly and feeling of freedom to my day. 

Enter Daniel Craig brandishing a bottle of Belvedere vodka, dancing his way across the Seine, through a luxury lobby, Parisian rooftop, and sumptuous hotel suite, all in pursuit of the perfect ice-cold drink. The ad was released at the end of last year, stomping its way onto the cultural foothold for 2022 with confidence and applause. Not needing to say anything, or mean anything. 

See this ad and I defy you to not to enjoy it, not to think “I’ll have a bit of what he’s having.” There are no brand ploys, no purposeful associations, no hidden messages or morally loaded fables - just pure, unadulterated, convivial, exhibitionist pleasure, with a sleek production and energetic soundtrack to match. But, make no mistake, a self-assured, solid brand is key to its success. 

Taco Bell took us on a similar ride for its Superbowl slot in 2022, with its quite literal ‘grande escape’, bringing with it Doja Cat and a brand partnership made in Mexican pizza heaven - a brand confident enough to let the star take the lead, on-stage “leaks”, TikTok spoofs and all. And boy have they reaped the rewards. 

But that’s not to say this is the only kind of communication that consumers are craving - as Accenture reports that amid instability and ever changing landscapes, consumers are increasingly allowing themselves to be inconsistent and contradictory - they’re allowing themselves to be human, and they’re realising that’s ok. And as a result brands need to broaden their one-dimensional approaches, and start viewing their customers as the complex, confusing, unpredictable, multi-faceted beings they are. 

We’re no longer holding ourselves to a single standard, and we don’t mind. We’re sitting happily in a new kind of comfort zone - one where personal values and practical realities meet, and paradox exists at every corner. And we as consumers should be allowed to do that, as the responsibility for building better brands, and in turn a better world, doesn’t lie with us, it lies with the owners, leaders and creators building them. Once those parameters are established, we should be safe to go where we please. 

So as a brand and business how do we address this shifting panorama rubbed up with mixed priorities? It’s time to view people's lives wholly - where once marketing was customer-centric, it’s now becoming “life-centric” and we must make allowances for all the nuances that exist. 

Companies willing to embrace that, who take the time and care to understand varying behaviours, utilising holistic insights and dynamic approaches, are the ones who will see the next period through. Products that offer options and solutions, and marketing tactics that go beyond a one-size-fits-all method. Combining autonomy with guidance, and a simplicity that cuts through the noise. 

It’s time to open our minds, hearts and imaginations to a new era of marketing that transcends values, gives (a little) power back to the people, and is ready to have a damn good time. 

Katie Tsouros is Creative Copywriter at BRND WGN. She spends her time understanding brands, and helping them tell stories to fall in love with.