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Five global macro trends set to most impact marketers in 2023

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By Audrey Kemp | Junior Reporter

October 10, 2022 | 7 min read

Global rip currents are forcing marketers to be more agile, more responsive and more daring than ever. As part of The Drum’s Globalization Deep Dive, we explore five key challenges they will need to navigate in the coming year.

hand delivering a package out of a computer

Consumer attitudes have changed following the pandemic and marketers should respond accordingly / Adobe Stock

With pandemic-related debt levels, macroeconomic policy changes, the ongoing invasion of Ukraine and other factors, the United Nation’s trade and development body lowered its global economic growth forecast to 2.5% in 2022. This is down from 3.6% the year prior. For 2023, it’s now calling for only 2.2% growth.

As fickle consumers across the world grapple with the uncertainties of the coming year, there are plenty of challenges for global marketers. Here are five consumer trends to watch:

1. Consumers don’t have time for brands

Share of consumers’ time spent with ad-supported media has plummeted to 54.6% globally and only 46.6% in the US, per PQ Media. This number is only expected to drop more. As competition for consumers’ attention continues to increase, brands need to be even more intentional with their content.

“Brands have even less time to get their message across,” says Darren Richardson, chief creative and managing director at Vivaldi Group. “They need to connect in a meaningful way, have a purpose consumers will connect to and, most importantly, make sure the consumer remembers your brand. Be where the consumer is, serve bite-sized and meaningful content, be quick with your message and fulfillment.”

2. But consumers will make time if brands actually make an impact on their world

Consumers are more likely to support brands that invest in social issues they care about. This means “brands’ roles in consumers’ lives will accelerate, with purpose-related factors becoming competitive differentiators,” says Danielle Gonzales, chief executive officer for the Americas at iProspect. “Consumers will increasingly expect humanized brand purpose, rooted in authenticity and accountability around societal concerns.”

But it isn’t just about purpose any more. It’s about true impact, says DDB chief strategy officer Auro Trini Castelli. According to the UN, the efforts made by each country to adapt to the impacts of climate change are not encouraging as they point to a nearly 14% increase in greenhouse emissions by 2030, instead of the sharp decline required to limit warming to meet the 1.5°C target set out in the Paris Agreement.

Trini Castelli adds: “Since governments aren’t doing enough and they can’t do it alone, the role that businesses will play is becoming increasingly important in making a significant difference and a collective societal impact. Their contribution is in demand, due to the rise of conscious consumerism that led brands to realize that the only way to grow perpetually is to grow sustainably.”

3. Consumers don’t trust brands

Customers have become more distrustful of big brands. Three quarters of executives around the globe report having a harder time establishing trust with their consumers since the onset of the pandemic, per a recent study from Adobe. This is because brands often “lack connectivity to culture, community or their consumers,” says Coltrane Curtis, founder and managing partner of Team Epiphany. For global brands to win in the future, he says they must “drive human relationships, foster connectivity and enrich or ease their lives.”

4. But they do trust their employers

When asked who they trust the most, “my employer” rose to the top of the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer. Employers beat out the government, media, social media and, not surprisingly, advertising. "Distrust has become the default global mindset, and yet our data shows employers have a tremendous trust advantage, says Julia Christenson, general manager and deputy US lead of employee experience. "As the most trusted source for information, employees are demanding to have a voice in the vision and the direction of the company and expect to see their employers to live out their values in responding to critical societal issues. When companies deliver on this, the returns are exceptional, from business performance to employee morale to customer satisfaction."

5. Price is going to be a focus for a long time

In the US, two-thirds of consumers said their biggest concern is rising prices/inflation, according to a recent McKinsey study. This far surpassed concerns about gun violence/personal safety (35%) and Covid (29%).

This is going to impact consumer segments differently. “Inflation, in particular, makes wealth divides even more apparent and affects consumer groups in very different ways,” says Jeff Greenspoon, president of global solutions at Dentsu. Amid these economic and political headwinds, brands must adjust their strategies accordingly. “In order to be successful, global brands need to become mass brands that attract diverse groups of people into their orbit,” he adds.

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