Global Trends Shaping Marketing in 2023

Welcome to 2023, where IRL and URL lives are already impossibly entangled. Wherever you are in the world, the social and creative landscape continues to evolve at pace. To help us make sense of some of the biggest shifts that lie ahead, here our global leaders share their thoughts on what’s on the horizon for marketers this year. 

The Dawn of the New-age Influencer
Roberto Collazos Garcia, CEO, Germany

After the pandemic, a switch happened. Influencers that add value to our lives rose to fame, while lifestyle influencers who specialised in sharing content about their seemingly perfect lives fell to the waste side.

Now, people want to see content that brings quality and added value to their life – DIY content, tips and tricks, interesting and amusing material, BTS scoops.

As a result, new influencer rules have been established:

1. Creativity and credibility

Talk about things you know. Do not ‘over-promote’ as people will stop trusting your recommendations.

2. Necessity over novelty

Despite the growth of ecommerce, people have become more cautious over what they’ll invest their money in. Creators must understand this and adapt their approach accordingly.

3. Authenticity / Speak your truth

It’s time to ‘stand for something.’ Be authentic and do not remain silent on zeitgeist topics. 

Silent influencers pay the price when turning their head to important issues.

4. Credibility over numbers

Micro and nano influencers have gained prominence, as people are more interested in real experiences than impressed with follower count. This resulted in more niche influencers and creators gaining recognition and credibility. 

TikTok Takes Over
Suzie Shaw, CEO, Sydney

TikTok usage shows no sign of slowing down with 62.5% users growth YOY and rapidly becoming ground zero for where major cultural trends are born and spread. 

Interestingly, with so much time being spent on the platform, its captivating content goes way beyond pure entertainment, and also leads consumers down the funnel. TikTok has the highest percentage of frequent social shoppers on any social media platform: over 20% of users reported that they buy things on TikTok “all of the time,” and 67 percent say they “feel inspired to shop” when using the platform, even when they didn’t intend to do so. It’s no surprise that TikTok has become the highest-grossing app in the world (including its Chinese version, Douyin), even as the overall market is seeing a slight decline. 

Despite its staggering growth, TikTok is still in its infancy in terms of the ad product, with many brands yet to embrace TikTok for owned or paid, leaving early movers to reap all the benefits. 

Will AI Put Us All Out of Our Jobs?
Sam Grischotti, Managing Director, Netherlands

In recent weeks we’ve seen fairly convincing articles written by ChatGPT appear all over the press. We’ve even seen it writing less convincing and slightly creepy fairy tales. As people in the business of creativity, should we be threatened by this? 

There’s no arguing that creativity drives business results and is a key ingredient for profitable growth. It is often all about originality and innovative thinking. While AI can generate innovative ideas, it cannot yet replicate the complex processes involved in human creativity. ChatGPT has attracted some praise for its creative potential when responding to outlandish questions, but it’s been argued that “the truth is that the real creativity here is in the prompt”.

AI can be innovative but it doesn’t have the capacity to be truly original. This is because AI relies on pre-existing data and patterns to make decisions and problem solve, meaning it is less likely to produce something genuinely original. Everything is created using pre-existing or learned inputs. Our jobs are safe, for now. 

Evolution of the Virtual World
Chris Chong, CEO, Singapore

Love it or hate it, the Metaverse was one of the most discussed topics of our industry in 2022. 

Understandably so, since it’s projected to be a 824.53 billion dollar industry by 2030. With the majority of Gen Z and Millennials already taking part in virtual world activities, and the continued growth and evolution of the Metaverse, virtual influencers (VI) are becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix—especially for brands looking for more ways to reach and interact with their target audience. 

One of the most important realisations we made through our very own VI named Cinder, is that the real power of VIs lies in bridging the gap between the Metaverse and conventional social media platforms. 

This allows brands to broaden their reach and engage with their audience directly in meaningful and authentic ways, while they continue to build the future of their metaversal presence.

From Social Graph to Interest Graph
Vincent Reynaud-Lacroze, Managing Director, France

The likes of TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts are changing the social media rules. Historically, as championed by Facebook, social pushed content linked to your relationships. This was the social graph area. Now, the algorithms of vertical video content platforms are pushing beforehand content that is linked to your interests and your past behaviour – the interest graph.

Social platforms are evolving towards content platforms that nurture different needs and interests, and if the content is produced by someone you know, it’s even better! Creators continue to grow as long as they are able to produce content that is appealing to the algorithm, while ‘normal’ people produce less content, but spend hours scrolling.

What does this mean for brands in 2023? First of all, more than ever, you need to understand your audience, what they like and dislike and what they are passionate about. You also need to understand a platform’s ways of working, creative potential and, crucially, cultural trends.

The interest graph rejuvenates communities by creating new trends of content that could reach millions of views – organic reach is still alive. And this is the first good news of 2023.

Margin Chasers: Seeking Authenticity Through Extreme Behaviour
Jim Coleman, UK CEO, Regional Lead UK & North America

Authenticity has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years and rising cynicism makes it increasingly difficult to come off as genuine on social. As a result, in order to be believable, self-expression is moving to extremes. 

This is one of the trends we covered in our recent Think Forward 2023 report – in the post-genuineness internet, the margins have become the only safe place to embody realness. We see this in action through an ever-expanding list of digital micro communities on social media which allows people with niche interests to come together. The more intense the energy, the more genuine it seems. Being mundane is no longer an option for many, demonstrated by the fact that being called ‘mid’ (meaning: middling) is a damning insult on TikTok. 

Brands like Gucci and Valentino have experimented with campaigns that focus on niches and extremes; while tapping into passionate behaviours and communities might feel like a risk, there is an opportunity for playful experimentation that fits with brand narratives.

A New Era of Content Search
Gabriele Cucinella, Stefano Maggi & Ottavio Nava, Regional Leads EU Area

We are witnessing the rise of a novel era of search: people are changing how they look for information and entertainment online. In what seems to be an almost “reformative” process,  social media are increasingly used to search the web as an additional option to “traditional” methods, and in some cases they become a valid alternative for search engines. In this scenario, even the term “googling” might evolve its meaning, as younger generations (nearly 40% of GenZ) are starting to shift to TikTok and Instagram for search over Google

On TikTok – for example – from people advising you on what to watch on Netflix to people commenting on this year’s Spotify Wrapped – honest and accurate descriptions of experiences, preferences, services or products are becoming more and more accessible to everyone. 

This phenomenon is letting us take a peek into new fascinating dynamics of content search, holding great potential for both people and companies. 

As audiences keep moving across platforms to search for content and information, brands will need to adapt, to stay relevant and relatable for their targets in all phases of the relationship.   

Meta-verse, Meat-space, and Back
Donald Wong, Office General Manager, Hong Kong

With the old “New Normal” of past years pushing our corner of the global market to adopt the digital lifestyle, with the advent of Web3.0, Metaverse, AI, and especially NFT entering the common vernacular and everyone’s lives, I’m going against the grain and say the pendulum will swing back to a demand for everything “IRL” in the “Meat-space”

With Mainland China and the Hong Kong SAR opening up again for both inbound and outbound travels, the unstoppable wave of “post-zero-COVID revenge spending” will not just hit our shores but reverberate throughout the region and the globe.

Embrace a more holistic marketing picture, integrated strategy that fully encompasses and drives the wheels of O2O2O (wherever you stick the Online/Offline in those O’s), to again, not only think about how online will once again drive foot traffic offline, but design unique experiential offerings that take advantage of an integrated world that’s both Meta and Meat, a new genuine virtual reality IRL.