Brand Strategy Business Leadership Predictions 2023

Riding the wave of uncertainty means predicting the needs of future consumers

By Rob Potter, Head of strategy

APS Group


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.

Find out more

January 26, 2023 | 7 min read

For The Drum's Predictions Deep Dive, Rob Potter of The APS Group looks at the wave of uncertainty in the forecast ahead and argues for investment in future-looking intelligence.

An awesome wave

Yet another wave of uncertainty is cresting for businesses. How can they ride it out? / Matt Paul Catalano via Unsplash

Brands and their leaders have been riding the wave of change for quite some time. The past few years have seen seismic shifts in innovation, politics, economics, culture, and the environment – plus major changes in consumer and industrial demand, volatile commodity markets, and rising inflation.

In 2023, all signs suggest that the wave of change will only continue to grow.

The coming months will test the decision-making ability of organizations, as volatility and uncertainty become normality. Still, many leaders will spend the next twelve months managing a stable business – in that their retained consumers, new consumers and referrals will provide just enough business to ensure survival.

Is it time to buckle down and weather the long storm?

Last month, McKinsey published an article on the ‘path to resilience’, co-authored by Matt Banholzer. It’s worth quoting at length: “Traditionally, resilience meant cutting costs and preserving capital. While belt-tightening shouldn’t be ignored, the cost focus alone has never been sufficient – and certainly isn’t in today’s market. Business is not facing just a momentary inflection but a state of volatility and long-term change that is becoming the new normal. In an extended volatile environment, companies must create optionality to enhance their risk profiles – not only their exposure to markets or geographies but also their exposure to system-level changes.”

As future growth depends on new business, leaders who settle for stability may be unable to achieve the development that allows their businesses to flourish.

Predicting future consumer needs is the key problem. Meeting demands means knowing what people might want in the future. The single most common failure among business leaders is the inability to clearly position an offering and value as the solution to an unmet need of the future customer.

Sometimes, decision-makers are working with minimal (or even no) business intelligence, alongside poor market and environment insights, and internal teams that are ill-equipped for new demands and market environments. New business failure looms. Even where analytics and data have been used, without unbiased and intelligent thinking the ability to find success is hampered.

Last year, consulting firm Gartner predicted that 60% of CMOs would cut the size of their analytic departments in half by 2023 due to “failed promised improvements”. Inconsistency and difficulty of access were listed among the top reasons analytics were not used when making decisions.

Responding with intelligence

We foresee many brands facing stunted growth in 2023, due to a lack of intelligent evidence, people with the skills to understand it, and the (again, lacking) ability to build a robust strategy for targeting business development and building consumer engagement pipelines.

Meanwhile, gaining insights has never been easier. Analytic reports, social listening tools, gathering marketing effectiveness data, accessing trend reports, and pulling together market and competitor research is available to every marketer smart enough to want it.

After all, intelligence is only useful when we know what to do with it.

Just take a look at Lego. As a brand, it had stability. It had a strong foothold in the male market. But volatility, innovation and competitor creep diminished its growth ambitions. Change needed to happen. Lego’s leadership team successfully gathered insights and data intelligence and, successfully promoted inclusivity for all children.

Lego’s work to determine the size of its market, and understand the importance of product size, packaging, placement, and platforms helped it to devise a strategy to launch a new era of brand dominance.

Suggested newsletters for you

Daily Briefing


Catch up on the most important stories of the day, curated by our editorial team.

Ads of the Week


See the best ads of the last week - all in one place.

The Drum Insider

Once a month

Learn how to pitch to our editors and get published on The Drum.

Riding high on the wave of change

Let’s rewind to the wave of uncertainty gripping even the most successful of brands. The temptation to buckle down and live in a stable business can be seductive; this type of resilience is often a viable option. But in 2023, extended volatility has placed demands on business leaders to accept a need to seek growth.

We predict another tough twelve months for brands and their leaders who do not seek intelligence to deliver growth strategies. We foresee uncertainty and volatility is going to be part of our future.

But how we control it and unearth opportunities in 2023 is down to the level of intelligence we uncover. More importantly, it’s down to how we use it.

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

Brand Strategy Business Leadership Predictions 2023

Content by The Drum Network member:

APS Group

We co-create with our clients to produce award-winning strategic thinking and creative, partnering with some of the largest brands across the world. From impactful...

Find out more

More from Brand Strategy

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +