Nostalgia, Metaverse & Brand Values: 40 Under 40 Executives Share 2023 Predictions

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With an uncertain economy in 2023, expect brands to focus on customer value in order to connect to consumers this year.

With an uncertain economy in 2023, expect brands to focus on customer value in order to connect to consumers this year.

Inflation is impacting consumer behavior. Mitchell Cooper, brand manager at KitchenAid Small Appliances, Whirlpool Corporation, says that inflationary pressures will drive consumers to cook more at home than they have in the last year.

“As consumers feel inflationary pressures, they save cash by first cutting small luxuries like eating out,” says Cooper. “When consumers cook at home, the perceived value of products that make this task easier/enjoyable will increase. For example, white collar professionals throughout 2022 began returning to office – with this increased time spent commuting vs 20/21, consumers might see high value in products/accessories that enhance the comfort & ease of being in a vehicle. Additionally, as was seen in the 2008 recession, expenditure in cheap thrills categories (alcohol, candy) will increase as consumers seek immediate & low-cost ways to relieve distress and find pleasure.”

Cory Sexson, vice president & general manager, emerging brands & breakthrough innovation at Tropicana Brands Group predicts that consumer value will be redefined. “The pandemic shed light on the increased importance of health and wellness, the value of shared experiences, and the importance of slowing down and living with intention,” says Sexson. “However, with macroeconomic shifts looming, brands are going to have to continue to meet consumers where they are, but will need to find new ways to redefine the consumer value equation as wallets will be increasingly stretched.”  

Brands will look to break through economic stress by entertaining consumers in fun ways. “Nostalgia from 80's/90's/00's brands continues to excite families as parents love to pass their childhood favorites down to their kids and show some love from their childhood,” says Michael Abata, director growth partnerships, CAMP.

Brand purpose

Consumers will continue to support brands that share their values this year.

“We will start to see brands show up differently in 2023 with the culmination of multiple influences,” says Rae Wang, director of treat marketing, Dairy Queen. “The fight for transactions (for the brand) and the growing importance of authentic, value-driven brands (for the consumer) will be the catalyst for many changes including ‘Customer Service as Marketing.’ I think we will see brands showcasing, and getting more credit for, the 1:1 service/experience they offer to guests- both in earned and paid channels. Not only demonstrating the brand’s authentic values, but also answering the why as consumers face hard choices on who to purchase from. Chick-fil-a has started to adopt this strategy in their TV spots telling stories about relationships between their crew and guests, in addition to brands like Chewy getting talk value and heightened brand love from stories of them sending flowers to pet owners after loss.”

“My trend/prediction for next year is that brand purpose will be more important than ever before,” says Andrea Schwenk, chief marketing officer at Egglife Foods. “With the immense information overload that today’s consumer has, coupled with inflationary pressures and tightening wallets, brands will need to be more focused than ever on a clear and meaningful brand purpose to differentiate and connect with consumers.”

A trend or prediction that’s top of mind for me as we look to next year is the importance of a diverse-first approach for brand marketing,” says Erica Jones, Senior Manager, Cultural & Inclusive Marketing, Kellogg Company. “The multicultural population is growing in America, and it is critical for brands to keep in mind that Gen Z is inherently multicultural. Diversity must be infused throughout our work and start with deep insights on diverse cohorts that ultimately results in great work that is meaningful and makes an impact.”

“The growth of plant-based protein products over the past few years has been undeniable,” says Eric Mills, associate director, innovation at The Kraft Heinz Company. “However, as prices in supermarkets continue to increase, how will consumers react to the typically high cost of those items? Will they continue to prioritize including more plants in their diet and make tradeoffs elsewhere? Or will they be forced to manage rising costs by moving away from those dietary choices?”

Innovation and tech

“One trend in the promotions space, aside from the continued shift from print tactics to digital tactics, will be leveraging AI to move from descriptive targeted offers to prescriptive offers,” says KC Glaser, senior manager, brand experience, loyalty at General Mills. “More companies will use AI and machine learning to parse through huge amounts of data we receive to recognize patterns and give every user a unique journey.”

“As budgets get cut and staffing streamlines, companies are going to look for more efficiencies across content strategy, creative production and reporting. I’m in the thick of it at my current company and lead efforts at my previous employer,” says Katie Hepler, Director, office of the CMO, Life Time Inc. “The new normal is going to be doing equal to previous years with less resources and figuring out how to structure work so team members don’t burn out. It doesn’t stop with marketing, brand and comms – these efforts will reach other business areas like operations and sales (they need us!).”

“Attention/eyeballs are shifting at a faster rate than ever before. I think we’ll see more effective opportunities in streaming, and certain social channels,” says Drew Brinckerhoff, marketing director at Ben’s Original, North America, Mars. “With this consumption shift and a proliferation in media, we’ll need to wade through the fragmentation. The route to mental availability is growing in complexity.”

“My prediction for the next year is that companies are going to start leveraging first-party data for more than just targeted advertising,” says Bryce Boothby, director, global technology at McDonald's. “Companies are looking at how they can improve the customer experience through a better understanding of who their customers are and what they like. Creating a connected experience from end to end that is truly unique from customer to customer.”

Metaverse

“With mounting pressure on the Metaverse and Web3 from brands, marketers and consumers alike, the focus and attention will shift back to Gaming to drive digital engagement with fans and audiences at scale,” says Bryan Waddell, brand marketing manager at Hot Pockets, Nestlé.

“2023 is poised for several significant shifts and advancements in marketing as we see more brands discover opportunities surrounding the metaverse, we prepare for a cookie-less future, and there is a continued push for transparency in tech,” says Holly Spaeth, vice president, corporate branding & partnerships at Polaris. “Having said that, I believe next year we will continue to see the rise of the micro-influencer and further monetization opportunities for content creators. We are poised to see a race between the publishing platforms to keep these creators creating and doing so attached to their brand and offering.”

“It will be more important for brands to represent the culture of their audiences, which will factor into consideration and, ultimately, sales,” says Erin Griffin, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Riddell.  “We are focused on acting at the speed of culture to maximize brand relevance, be increasingly opportunistic, and remain relevant with our many stakeholders.”

As we look to 2023, I’m watching brands who are investing in their digital experiences to build communities,” says Olivia Ross, senior digital marketing manager at El Pollo Loco. “There is tremendous opportunity in leveraging first party data in new ways, introducing Web 3.0 into marketing, and creating holistic experiences around insight; I think we’ll see a lot of magic come out of marketing departments next year and I’m eager to see how brands start to bring these opportunities to life.”

Zach Berliner, Senior Director, Sponsorships, Lifestyle & Experiential Marketing, Constellation Brands, expects the continued evolution and merger of IRL experiences and virtual/digital extensions. “How will metaverse, AR/VR, etc. further impact the behaviors and experiences of our consumers? How will a potential recession that on the horizon impact consumer behavior around their choices of what to drink, where and with whom.  Will the post-Covid Roaring 20s thesis uphold?”

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