Brand Strategy Cost of Living Predictions 2023

Looking to thrive in the recession? Turn to search data and real-time analytics

By Chris Pitt, Managing Director

Vertical Leap


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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January 25, 2023 | 7 min read

For The Drum's Predictions Deep dive, Vertical Leap's Chris Pitt argues that, amid tough times, businesses that quickly act on available data sources (including search data) will reap rewards.

Cheetah ready to pounce

Businesses that remain vigilant to opportunities in real-time will finesse 2023 / Kyle Henderson via Unsplash

We’ve entered a third successive year of economic hardships. Businesses can’t afford to simply wait for better times. They will need to move faster and more decisively than ever in 2023 and take the lead with search data and real-time analytics to pave their own way to success.

As pressure mounts on businesses from all angles, search data will make the difference for companies in 2023. The pandemic highlighted the importance of search data in times of crisis. Historical data lost most of its value in the face of extreme disruption, making predictive analysis almost impossible. Instead, companies had to rely on real-time search data to keep up with consumer demand as it changed from week to week (and sometimes even overnight).

Search data is unbiased, and it's real-time. Although there’s a bit of a lag with Search Console, for example, Google Ads data is instantaneous, meaning that you can find out what people care about today (and will be important to them in the future).

Covid-19 is still affecting the economy, but it is compounded by a cost-of-living crisis, a looming recession, and several other pressures. If anything, the future is more uncertain and even more challenging to predict than in 2020.

Know what consumers are thinking and doing

As times get more challenging, margins for error in business and marketing decisions shrink. You can’t afford to make assumptions or rely on generic insights. For example, conscious consumerism was steadily rising before Covid-19 and interest actually increased as the pandemic progressed. However, the cost-of-living crisis aligns with a decline in searches for topics related to ‘environmentally friendly’.

Priorities of course change during economic hardships, but many consumer studies suggest that consumers are prepared to support brands that do good for the environment, even as the cost of living worsens.

The problem for businesses is that, as the 'attitude-behavior gap' describes, consumers often say one thing and do something completely different. In fact, several studies have shown that many consumers consider themselves to be eco-conscious buyers while their opinions of themselves don’t reflect their true purchase decisions.

With the UK forecast to have the worst recession among G7 nations in 2023, companies can’t afford to take consumers at their word. They need to know what their target audiences are really doing. Search data provides the unbiased, real-time insights required to do this.

Opportunities for short-lived but big wins

The biggest lesson from the pandemic was how quickly consumer habits can change in times of hardship. Opportunities are short-lived but companies that respond quickly enough can win big.

As lockdowns forced people to do more of their shopping online, businesses that quickly transitioned to online selling thrived. Then you had the companies that were naturally positioned to benefit from the crisis: e-commerce stores, takeaways, companies selling home improvement goods, etc.

Finally, there were the companies that tapped into real-time search data and adapted their business to seize opportunities. This includes the restaurants, cafes and bakeries that started providing takeaway and delivery services. It includes the companies that introduced free delivery and next-day delivery services to meet new levels of demand.

It also includes the retailers that adapted stock to include more in-demand products: home improvement, exercise equipment, fitness clothing, garden ware, etc.

The cost-of-living crisis will create plenty of similar, short-lived, big-win opportunities for businesses in 2023. But you’re not going to know they exist unless you’ve got a real-time analytics system that detects them, and the ability to capitalize on them quickly.

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Be one of the winners in 2023

Every economic crisis has its winners and losers. Search data will help you get the big decisions right, removing the guesswork by giving you real-time insight into what consumers are really thinking, and what they’re actually doing.

Instead of following generic consumer insights, narrow in on your target audiences and dig deeper into the relevant data. This will reveal your biggest opportunities for 2023 and allow you to take full advantage of them before it’s too late. This is the data-driven approach. 2023’s winners will be positioned for the strongest recovery in the years ahead.

For more takes on the year ahead, by and about marketing agencies, check out our Agencies Predictions hub.

Brand Strategy Cost of Living Predictions 2023

Content by The Drum Network member:

Vertical Leap

We are an evidence-led search marketing agency that helps brands get found online, drive qualified traffic to their websites and increase conversions/sales.


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