Marketing leaders will continue facing uncertain and volatile conditions in 2023, while still being under pressure to drive growth. These include things like changes to third-party tracking in browsers, the economy, marketing budget cuts, and more.
The tech industry in particular has been impacted by these volatile conditions in the market and in the workforce. Following The Great Resignation, which saw employees leaving their jobs at heightened rates, there were also a number of highly publicized large layoffs at companies like Amazon, Meta, and Stripe, not to mention half of Twitter being laid off upon being taken over by Elon Musk.
To help these marketing leaders plan ahead, the research firm Gartner has published three trends that it believes marketing leaders will need to face in 2023. Being aware of the challenges can help leaders understand the best ways to move forward and be successful in meeting their goals.
“As CMOs enter 2023, the current environment demands a relentless focus on customer value, purposeful evolution of the marketing function, and continual optimization of brand value,” said Ewan McIntyre, chief of research in the Gartner Marketing practice. “In order to meet the enterprise mandate of driving growth amid continued disruption, CMOs must act decisively to prioritize their investments and their strategy for the year ahead.”
The first trend the analyst firm identified is that customer behaviors will shift and drive more uncertainty.
Inflation has contributed to a lot of changes in consumer behavior, such as 30% of consumers opting for the store brand and a fifth of consumers replacing more in-person shopping visits with online shopping. This was according to a survey Gartner had conducted in September 2022, in which it spoke to over 1,500 consumers. In order to overcome this challenge, companies will need to focus on maintaining brand preference, premiums, and loyalty.
Consumers and B2B will also withhold more of their personal data, which will make it harder for marketing teams to track demand or offer multichannel engagement. Incoming regulatory and technical changes, such as the removal of browser cookies and new privacy features in iOS and Android, have the potential to make the current marketing strategies obsolete.
“Marketing leaders should create a digital customer value exchange to provide mutual value on digital channels throughout the full cross-channel journey,” McIntyre said. “Enhance the effectiveness of digital marketing by seeking opportunities for personalized engagements that genuinely help customers throughout their end-to-end customer journeys.”
The second trend is that cross-functional collaboration will actually result in worse outcomes.
The company did a study in March 2022 and found that companies who describe their approach as “independent” outperform those who identify as “collaborators” by almost a quarter in annual revenue.
According to Gartner, marketing priorities have become enterprise-wide and now include complex cross-functional execution. One result of this is that having shared priorities across a company can draw funding away from marketing departments. Many of these departments still haven’t recovered to their pre-pandemic budget numbers. Further restrictions will result in lower performance in reaching critical marketing goals.
“CMOs must adapt team structures and skills to advance new cross-functional operating models. Streamline operations, establish common key performance indicators (KPIs), and orchestrate messaging throughout the customer experience for greater effectiveness of marketing, sales, and other customer-facing teams,” McIntyre said.
The third trend is that traditional sources of brand value are being disrupted by things like new market entrants, heightened audience expectations, and the ease of being able to learn about unfamiliar brands online.
Over half of the employees and consumers that Gartner surveyed over the summer said that it’s “less important to choose a well-known brand today than it was 3 years ago.” The survey also found that 75% of audiences have searched online for information about a previously unknown brand, and only 15% of audiences report a strong brand commitment.
Established brands will need to reposition themselves in order to stay competitive in the market. All brands will need to explore emerging channels and innovative strategies in order to stay relevant.
“CMOs must redefine and quickly demonstrate the value of brand investments in a volatile environment,” McIntyre said. “The strongest driver of brand commitment is a single meaningful brand experience, even with unfamiliar brands.”