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#BizTrends2023: Brands need a resolute attitude, but opportunities still abound

The last time we wrote our predictions, we were cautiously optimistic about the year ahead and advising a bolder approach in 2022. Who could have known that just two months later the world would be facing unprecedented geopolitical turmoil and the talk of recession would dominate board agendas in the year ahead.
Roan Mackintosh, MD - Africa at Incubeta.
Roan Mackintosh, MD - Africa at Incubeta.

As we look back on 2022 and share trends for the year ahead, it’s worth noting that uncertainty remains an overarching theme for 2023. However, we’ve kept this in mind when laying out our trends, and have included some that will help de-risk business in 2023, while also ensuring brands are well-positioned to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

And, fortunately, we do see some exciting opportunities for brands to lean into digital marketing that can make a real difference in their performance – no matter what type of economy they may find themselves in.

Data and privacy compliance will continue to be headache

A problem crept in this year when it came to the consent mode on websites. Many users are simply avoiding either accepting or rejecting cookies and navigating away from the pop-up. In an abundance of caution businesses would see the non-decision as an automatic reject. However, some brands saw a 50% drop-off in traffic and a big dip in sales as a result, forcing them to roll back their consent mode policies.

The learning was that, while it’s great to be forward thinking and proactively embracing compliance, until data regulation (like consent mode), is absolutely required, rather don’t implement it. More than that, this was a short, sharp lesson in just how much impact the deprecation of cookies will actually have on the industry. This continues to be a moving target and the technology, including new tracking methodologies, required to get compliant is consuming a good deal of focus and budget for brands into 2023.

Making sense of your data is a huge opportunity

One of the benefits of becoming data compliant is that brands are waking up to hidden treasure troves of data in their organisations. In fact, understanding data and making it work for your business is such a key focus this year that we have significantly grown our global data implementation hub.

This includes data implementation specialists, analysts, scientists, engineers as well as reporting and BI analysts. Data cleansing, management and visualisation, as well as predictive modelling of data and the potential of machine learning will be high on our agenda this year. Agencies that can help their clients optimise their spend and turn data into dollars will be the ones which don’t just weather the storm ahead, but make the downturn work in their favour.

Great feeds help build e-commerce delivery

Between the ongoing war, global inflation, and supply chain issues, stock availability continues to be a big challenge. When brands drive traffic to products that are not available your ad spend is completely wasted. Knowing what you have available in real-time is a must, and stock data must be plugged into your media campaigning. Using feeds and feed technology is the answer. The bigger retailers are updating their feeds every half hour to great effect.

Disruptors won’t wait

Despite many businesses going into holding patterns as they wait for more economic certainty, innovation waits for no one, and we have already engaged with a number of industry disruptors who are forging ahead with their plans. These lean, nimble companies who are eager to cut out the inefficiencies of bloated, traditional firms are likely to shake up their sectors. The best advice is for existing brands to remain agile and look to technology and their partners to help them compete.

Great content strategies could have a big impact

2022 saw many brands apply their minds to how content could help them reach new audiences. We see 2023 taking this trend to the next level, with brands trialing new ways of making content for various digital platforms. Performance benchmarks for different creative assets and styles have given brands the confidence to try new things.

In addition, dynamic template-driven creative has reduced workloads and helped deliver bigger portfolios of creative assets at a lower cost. In a downturn environment, trying new things is especially important.

Amazon could help de-risk your business in 2023

Speculation about how Amazon will operate in the market still abounds, especially when it comes to potential fulfillment partnerships. What’s more, the promise of next-day delivery, as well as all the other benefits of Amazon Prime, should shake up the local e-commerce market. We know that Amazon lives and dies by brand participation and we can be sure they will be employing every incentive possible to encourage sign-ups.

Unfortunately, we believe they will stand firm on their margins and the consumer hopes of a price war may be dashed. However, in an uncertain market, brands cannot ignore new channels. In fact, Amazon could be an excellent way for consumer brands to ensure they are properly diversified and not over-exposed to a single local market. And it will be this kind of expansive thinking, where brands adopt a test and learn approach, that will separate those that simply survive from those that flourish in 2023.

About Roan Mackintosh

Managing Director - Africa at Incubeta. Roan joined Incubeta in May 2019 after spending 11 years at WPP's global digital marketing technology and consultancy arm, Acceleration, where he was group business director. Roan's extensive experience as well as his insatiable curiosity have helped hone his skills in digital strategy and mobile advertising, making him a valuable industry commentator.
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