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Brand Strategy Open Mic Predictions 2023

10 must-know marketing trends for brands and retailers to get excited about in 2023

By Todd Kaufman, VP, strategy & partnerships



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January 27, 2023 | 15 min read

Brands, retailers and consumers are utilizing the past to evolve their future, write Beanstalk's Todd Kaufman (VP, strategy & partnerships) and Whitney Rosenfeld (coordinator, business development & marketing). For The Drum's Predictions Deep Dive, they lay out the most exciting trends that every brand and retailer should pay attention to in 2023.

2023 marketing trends

Consumers are both embracing technology and leaning into analog pleasures. They are buying new while embracing old. They are grounded but exploring. Whether watching a deceased legend perform a “live” concert in the metaverse, or shunning social media filled Androids in favor of flip phones, our lives are moving in one direction: forward.

Brands, retailers and consumers are evolving to adjust to post-pandemic life in the wake of economic turmoil, while the three largest generations wield unprecedented spending power and influence.

Here are 10 trends that have us excited about the changes to come in 2023.

1. Rotating retail

Small and mighty is predicted to win the retail race in 2023, with typically large-format stores scaling back into micro, yet engaging, concept locations. With smaller formats able to combat inflation and supply chain issues through lower rents, fewer employees and less inventory, retailers are still able to cut through the noise by creating more personalized in-person shopping experiences.

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Fashion retailer H&M recently debuted its small concept, rotating retail store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, featuring a showroom style merchandising display with fewer, curated garments and touch-free try-on experiences.

Bloomingdale’s is also aiming to extend its small format this year in Seattle with the opening of its third “Bloomie’s” location. The Bloomie’s store will receive multiple deliveries on a weekly basis to give shoppers a unique shopping experience each time they enter the store.

2. Don’t call it a comeback

Although some fashion trends would be better off staying in the decade they came from, 2023 is preparing to prove otherwise. Riding on the heels of the Y2K resurgence (as well as the rise of 20-year-old point and shoot cameras as the new accessory for Gen-Z), once-forgotten brands are relaunching.

Two beloved brands from the early 2000’s, known for their snarky and sassy designs and messages, are blasting from the past to give the nostalgia-driven fashion renaissance a cheeky twist: Happy Bunny is back in stores at Hot Topic and Zumiez, while Bobby Jack is dropping limited edition baby-tees on its DTC site.

Additionally, beloved 80’s and 90’s California apparel brand Espirit is planning to open a NYC flagship this year to revitalize its beloved styles, while Hollywood heritage brand Von Dutch gears up to enter its new chapter with a more premium collection, dubbed Von Dutch Paris.

3. Mushroom mania

CBD and THC are so last decade. The new wellness trend that straddles the line between supplement and vice is mushrooms. The category can be broken down into two segments: “magic” and “functional.”

“Magic” mushrooms, which contain psilocybin and psilocin (two psychedelic compounds associated with tripping psychological journeys) have now been legalized for supervised use in Colorado and Oregon. Consumers 21+ can enter a licensed facility to ingest these mushrooms, which have been used to treat PTSD among veterans and first responders as well as other mental health issues. Possession of mushrooms has also been decriminalized in a number of cities.

At mainstream grocery and retail, “functional” mushrooms such as reishi, lion’s mane, chaga and cordyceps are being hailed as the newest superfood and can be found in food & beverage items such as coffee, tea, protein powders and chocolates. Brands such as Four Sigmatic, MudWtr and Alice offer a suite of products that cite benefits such as increased focus, energy, metabolic boosting and sleep enhancement.

4. Green Britain

Socially-conscious consumers have been at the forefront of the movement to make the world a more sustainable place, while also proving that it’s not easy being green. In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority has implemented new provisions to crack down on marketing efforts that make funds look more environmentally friendly than they actually are, or greenwashing. In the EU, French food company Danone is being sued for its alleged “plastic megapollution” and not complying with efforts by Zero Waste France, ClientEarth and Surfrider Foundation Europe to reduce its plastic footprint.

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However, with accountability in mind, some UK service providers are already starting to implement better sustainability practices in 2023; UK-based delivery-service Deliveroo recently announced its £2.5 million packing fund to save over 400 tons of plastic waste, and UK supermarket chain Waitrose is planning to replace its small wine bottles with aluminum cans to save over 320 tons of packaging waste.

5. Whiskey with a side of history

Culinary tourism has long been a way for travelers to see the world through a more local lens. From food to breweries to vineyards, consumers can immerse themselves in the history, culture and traditions of a city through sensory experiences. In 2023, distillery tourism is entering the chat. From the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, to Oaxacan mezcal tours, to Edinburgh’s immersive Johnnie Walker Journey of Flavour, spirit makers are using tours, stories and education to emotionally connect with consumers and strengthen their relationship to both product and process. As travel continues to return to pre-pandemic levels, cities around the world are embracing the opportunity to raise a local glass with their visitors.

6. Space tastes

Outer space is cool again. Intergalactic exploration will continue to rise in 2023 as NASA prepares for the Artemis Mission which will send the first woman and the first person of color to the surface of the moon. Additionally, this April, the European Space Agency will launch JUICE to explore Jupiter’s icy moons. While the price of tourism remains prohibitive for most consumers, interest remains high, especially among Gen Z. Citing “optimism” and “inspiration,” Mintel predicts an increased interest in space-themed food that feature climate-friendly, yet durable compositions. Furthermore, as the aerospace industry works to be more inclusive, a NASA engineer is designing the first ever space suit specifically made for women. The designer also owns the streetwear brand, Girl in Space Club, which is part of the long-standing trend of blending NASA with fashion.

7. Mainstream makers go off-road

In 2023, the motorsport of off-roading, or driving and riding vehicles on unpaved, natural elemental surfaces, will become more popular thanks to mainstream automakers fueling the hobby. While the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler have already boasted their off-roading capabilities, General Motors recently announced that it plans to disrupt the market in 2023 with a tough and mighty vehicle that could give more of a rough edge to the standard suburban/commuter SUV.

Premium European carmakers Porsche and Lamborghini predict big profits for off-road variants of their super sportscars by transforming off-roading into a luxurious activity. Furthermore, Lexus is also jumping on the bandwagon through its recent debut of RX, GX and ROV off-roading concepts in Tokyo, aiming to get owners out of the city and into nature.

8. Meta-morphosis

No, “the metaverse” itself is not a trend. It’s here to stay. However, the evolution of how we all engage with it will be one of the biggest stories to watch in 2023. Several media outlets have touted the power of the metaverse as a marketing channel. Brands will continue to use platforms as a virtual proving ground to test new products and experiences and engage with younger consumers. While results are still mixed, more companies are adopting VR workspaces such as Meta’s Horizon Workrooms for a more immersive and creative way for teams to engage. Musicians will continue to use the metaverse to shatter concert “attendance” numbers and make the impossible seem real, and the NBA will bring 52 live League Pass games into its virtual “NBA Arena.”

9. Community unity

It’s 2023 and we don’t want to write the words “coming out of the pandemic” any more than you want to read them. However, we need to be real in not only evaluating what we’ve lived through, but what we’ve lost. The impact of the isolation caused by lockdown will have lasting effects on our mental health for years to come. As a result, consumers continue to crave thoughtful opportunities for social engagement.

While butter boards are a food trend, they also represent a return to truly communal dining. Younger consumers are consciously uncoupling with social media in favor of flip phones and embracing tech-free gatherings, such as book clubs. Runners who are part of groups log significantly more miles than those who run solo, while The New York Times continues to encourage us to buck our parents’ safety advice and actually talk to strangers. As we think about the consumer state of mind this year, we must keep in mind that engagement is stronger when it occurs within a community.

10. Fast and linear content are king

We’ve known that “content is king” for a while now. For 2023, FAST channels, or free ad-supported streaming TV channels, are on the rise, particularly for children’s programming as cord-cutters seek a cable-like experience without exorbitant monthly fees. While these channels aren’t particularly new, as Pluto TV, Peacock, and The Roku Channel dominate the space, production houses behind some of the most beloved kids properties are debuting channels that will provide children with over 400 hours of programming exclusive to their favorite characters.

Evergreen property Smurfs recently teamed up with LA-based FAST channel OTTera to launch two channels, dubbed Smurfs TV and Spanish-language channel Los Pitufos, featuring the iconic blue characters in over 500 episodes. US Hispanic media outlet Canela Media also announced its plans to enter “the FAST lane” with Canela Kids, a stand-alone mobile app featuring over 3,000 hours of children’s programming in Spanish. The app will boast content from familiar brands like Cocomelon, Barbie, Hot Wheels, and more, as well as over 40 new titles.

At the end of the day, the rise of FAST channels is bringing consumers full circle back to linear TV. Shows like ABC’s Abbott Elementary and HBO’s The White Lotus bring us back to the “old-school” way of watching TV by allowing consumers to tune in at a particular time and place.

As the year unfolds, we will continue to see transformation across every major consumer industry while simultaneously embracing the new and the familiar. We will adapt, we will evolve, we will progress; and above all else, we will do it together.

Brand Strategy Open Mic Predictions 2023

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