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What will 2023 hold for brand activism?

by thomas noble-sabokbar

December 5, 2022

Society’s trust in government is at an all-time low. Edelman’s Trust Barometer recently found that one in two respondents saw government as divisive forces in society.

If trust in the government is waning, faith in the power of brand activism continues to grow. The same study found that 61% see businesses as trusted sources of information. Further data reveals that 66% of consumers who want brands to engage with social issues say it’s because they believe brands can enable meaningful action. That begs the question: in 2023 will the onus increasingly be on businesses to be the drivers of societal change?

There are already businesses leading the way

The fashion industry has long been plagued with a negative environmental impact. But now companies such as Jack Wolfskin are pioneering a more sustainable approach. From no fur being used, to exploring recycled materials and stringent requirements for suppliers, and partnering with NGOs.

Even the fibers we use to produce clothes are changing. Parley for the Oceans has been turning ocean plastic into products for the likes of Prada and Adidas. Its data suggest that across our oceans the level of plastic pollution has already matched that of 2021. In the first half of the year, the non-profit environmental organisation cleared more than 580,000 kg of debris from the sea.

There are now more smartphones on the planet than people. So businesses like Fairphone who are supplying consumers with products that are built to last and designed to be fixed with ease, is a turning point for the sector. In 2021, consumers spent $19.6 billion during the black Friday weekend. As shoppers flock to grab new tech deals ahead of the festive season, businesses that shine a light on the growing problem of overconsumption and the tech industry’s harmful ‘make-use-dispose’ attitude are vital.

Additionally, businesses like Ecologi are helping companies and individuals fund the best climate solutions worldwide - from tree planting to verified carbon avoidance projects. For instance, its work with indigenous communities within the Madre de Dios region of Peru aimed to protect biodiversity and the threat of deforestation. If we are going to battle continued severe weather sweeping over the globe, clearing up climate confusion, simplifying the jargon, and providing solutions will be crucial.

In the streaming world, for us at WaterBear we are posing the question: How can we push the boundaries of what content can achieve? We want to deliver impact, telling stories from the front line of climate activism and showcasing the work NGOs and businesses are doing to engage with the issues we care about. But brands must effectively use content to showcase their credentials on topics that matter - from sustainability to social justice. Many businesses of today are making a positive impact in unison with pioneering NGOs. We want to tell their stories and fuel their campaigns.

We are now entering an era of growing activism. Research by Deloitte shows that 38% of people ‘actively engaged’ in 2021 - signing a petition, attending a protest, or donating and campaigning for a cause. In tandem with this shift, consumers will increasingly expect brands to step up and reflect these values. Crucially, brands must implement action in a meaningful way. Over half of people said they can detect ‘trust-washing’ or ‘greenwashing’ in marketing according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer.

As we head into 2023, smart brands will embrace this responsibility and take the opportunity to evolve with customer demand.


Brand awareness
2023 marketing strategies