Just when we thought it was safe to start talking about “business as usual,” 2022 threw marketers a curve in the form of social-media platform upheaval and significant shifts in consumer behavior -- and how they interact with messaging.
As marketers, we are accustomed to being nimble and following trends. Still, some shifts are significant.
From an accelerated path to market for brands to an explosion of information and media fragmentation, the coming year will no doubt present new challenges to marketers -- particularly ones in the health and wellness space.
We have identified five trends that are sure to be disruptors for 2023, and one to watch that has the power to reorder the chess pieces on the social-media game board.
Social media upheaval throws brands a curve
As 2022 draws to a close, there is significant disruption in the social space. With new owners, changing corporate visions and massive layoffs, there are more questions than answers for marketers.
Social media is a critical tool that marketers use to connect more directly and authentically with key audiences, playing an increasingly significant role in marketing and media strategies with each year.
Meta, Amazon, Google and Snapchat are making deep cuts in staffing as revenues decline. Apple has “paused” its hiring, and even Pinterest is reporting slowed growth and revenue declines.
Then there’s Twitter, where new management has whittled the workforce as brands pause campaigns on the platform, taking a wait-and-see attitude as ad spending there drops 80% by some estimates.
Beauty brands eschew traditional marketing. Are they onto something?
We have all done it (well, I certainly have on many occasions). It could be the direct purchase on Instagram of a new, promising beauty product presented by a beloved influencer or beauty guru.
Sometimes it’s an amazing new discovery and sometimes it’s not really what it promised to be, but the fact remains that beauty is onto to something new in the way it is marketing to and connecting with consumers. It’s personal and it's gaining popularity fast.
In the past couple of years, we have seen an influx of entrants to the direct-to-consumer (D2C) space within the beauty category and have watched them break all the rules in traditional marketing playbooks.
Gone are the days of investing in a slow and steady brand-building plan supported by multichannel efforts. Welcome to the days of building rapid trial and adoption through direct e-commerce and influencer marketing.
For those who do it well, we see almost overnight success in brand adoption with much lower costs to market.
It’s a fast track to customer loyalty, and some traditional brands are getting on board. Health and wellness are among the top-performing up-and-coming brands and are poised to seize this moment.
Just look at the myriad of sexual-wellness brands tapping into influencers or digital health startup Maven Clinic, which shifted from B2B to B2C marketing and became the industry’s first unicorn valued over $1B.
But for some categories, like healthcare -- whose brands and consumers could benefit immensely from this type of approach -- a convenient "click here to buy" model doesn’t really exist. But there is still much to learn from this new model.
The time is now ripe to take a closer look at the new approach to the marketplace that beauty has provided. There’s a lot to be gained from emulating brands that forgo traditional brand-building routes in favor of the speed, connection and endorsement that comes from utility and commerce enablement.
As we look to 2023, we will guide our brands to experiment in this space, uncovering new market disruptions of their own.
The paradox of empowered patients
Healthcare information is more prevalent than ever in places that extend far beyond the walls of the doctor’s office as HCP shortages increase. These two realities have collided to create an incredibly disruptive moment in the future of health, information and care.
We are seeing a growing threat in the dwindling number of physicians -- present and future.
The U.S. faces a projected shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians within the next 12 years across all specialties, according to the AMA.
These reduced ranks are trying to keep up with increasing demand and are relying more heavily on care teams to filter information. On the inverse, as consumers seek out health information, they are being inundated with too many sources.
The daily doses of information available to patients moves more quickly than most HCPs find comfortable. One way they are keeping up is by looking at what other HCPs are saying and doing.
Doctors have always relied upon other respected HCPs to share information and learn about innovation and medical advancements.
As more docs join the social-media economy, this has become easier to access. But patients still come armed with information and expect to engage, challenging HCP's role as the central authority in care.
In this new reality, how can HCPs and their teams work at the speed of content while providing the care and engagement that their patients expect in an increasingly challenging time of fewer resources?
How can we provide opportunities for faster connections between doctors to empower doctors to meet patients where they are?
We believe media and marketers have an important role to play in forging those connections with the right information at the right moments.
The proliferation of CTV
CTV — it’s everywhere these days. Media companies are seeking new ways to provide custom solutions that utilize deep libraries of content in what is ostensibly a more customized or proprietary product.
But is the proliferation of this type of packaged content an opportunity or liability for brands?
CTV is expected to grow 14.4% next year, at the expense of traditional cable and broadcast advertising channels, according to with IAB, which is projecting a decline of 6.3% for linear TV.
In theory, CTV offers a lot of benefits -- smarter use of data that allows for more strategic targets to be built for buyers with less waste for advertisers, a better way to balance and manage both incremental reach and frequency distribution across all consumers, access to the exact inventory that advertisers and consumers both want to be placed within, as well as the ability to connect back to results faster and with more accuracy for better plan optimizations.
Today there seem to be new providers and solutions cropping up daily that offer bespoke or white-label solutions to take advantage of the great promise and great opportunity.
But how do we navigate the confusion?
There is the promise of managing total delivery metrics across a campaign and across platforms, regardless of what individual piece of content is being consumed.
But with too much fragmentation, that promise seems to rapidly be at risk. Advertisers are moving into the space quickly, but the inventory is still outpacing advertisers, which may have the opposite impact over time.
How much content is too much? How does an advertiser balance the benefits and wade through the options?
CTV is growing. It’s a simple solution for advertisers who are leaning into existing viewing habits across different sources with data-driven targeting. It also has more of a translatable format from an advertiser’s perspective. It uses similar assets that can be used across a lot of supply.
But CTV is also short on supply, and brands can sometimes suffer from a lack of variety and scope in available content.
Consumers are driving a revolution in search behavior
Consumers are searching for information differently, forsaking the tried and true for new platforms.
The platform’s name itself is synonymous with search, but consumers are using new ways to seek out answers -- turning to new platforms and methods to gather information.
In 2021, for the first time, Google was toppled from its top spot as the most popular internet domain -- nudged out by TikTok across age groups.
Even more notable is that 40% of Gen Z users prefer using TikTok and Instagram for search over Google, while 74% of all U.S. product searches now begin on Amazon.
Google has countered by introducing new ways for people to search its site and is experimenting with novel methods of delivering answers.
At its annual Search On event in September, Google executives emphasized that search was undergoing a total reinvention -- one more rooted in discovery than questions and answers.
Search behavior is even further splintered by ethnicity as Asians, Black Americans, Hispanics and other non-white populations exhibit unique preferences in social media platforms.
For example, Hispanic adults and Black Americans are more likely to use Instagram in greater numbers than white Americans, according to a Pew Research Study (52% of Hispanic adults, 49% of Black Americans, 35% of white Americans).
As a core component to any marketing plan, winning at the search game is a key strategy for most marketers.
As the landscape shifts and consumers lead the way to new methods of searching, marketers must stay ahead and follow their path.
One to watch: reproductive rights put data reliance in flux
There was perhaps no bigger disruptor to health in 2022 than the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v Wade. The case -- Dobbs v Jackson -- has upended women’s health care and has major -- and not yet fully understood -- implications for patients, medical providers, insurers and health marketers.
One question we are asking right now is how digital behavior by women may change because of uncertainty and fear.
As marketers, we seek to support women in all elements of their reproductive journey. We rely on data signals to identify and engage end users with critical information.
But this new world order in many states is already impacting how women manage privacy controls. This leads us to wonder whether women choose anonymous search platforms and chats or abandon health trackers and other “femtech” designed to help them manage their health overall.
These behavioral shifts not only have the potential to take health directly out of women’s hands, but also limit a marketer’s ability to connect with them in what could be useful and empowering ways.
As we navigate a new future for women in the U.S., we are watching this space and challenging ourselves to find new and safer ways to connect women with relevant and powerful information that can help them take control of their own journey without risk.
This could well be a disruptor in 2023 and beyond.