The WARC Marketer’s Toolkit: Finding focus in uncertain times

February 7th, 2023 | Carolyn Murphy, VP, Americas at WARC

WARC Marketer's toolkit 2023 The Marketer’s Toolkit is an annual report that identifies key trends impacting marketers and offers them insight, to focus, survive and thrive in the coming year..

The post-pandemic optimism with which we all began 2022 faded rapidly in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While the invasion itself was limited to Ukraine, the domino effect of the war spread rapidly across the global economy, with skyrocketing energy prices and inflation. The IMF forecasts 2.7% global growth in 2023, down from 6% in 2021, presenting one of the weakest growth profiles since 2001.

Ninety-five percent of marketers globally expect to be affected by the economic slowdown in 2023, according to the Marketer’s Toolkit survey of 1,700 marketers worldwide. The Marketer’s Toolkit is an annual report that identifies key trends impacting marketers and offers them insight, to focus, survive and thrive in the coming year.

While the war is certainly center-stage, marketers also need to recognize other significant challenges: Climate change and deteriorating US-China trade relations are also driving major changes in industries built on just-in-time availability. Media fragmentation and cultural divides make it harder to aggregate audiences and create widely resonant messages. For once, even the technology giants are finding revenues difficult to come by. And of course, the climate emergency has only escalated in the intervening months between COPs.

WARC’s trend analysis is built on our proprietary STEPIC framework which offers a structured approach to evaluate macro-level drivers. We also gather data via a global survey and in-depth interviews with more than a dozen marketing leaders worldwide, to help us identify and analyze the following five key trends that will shape marketing strategies in 2023:

  • Marketing in a cost-of-living crisis: Current economic factors are driving very high levels of price sensitivity. Marketers must find ways to maintain brand equity, manage pricing strategies and increase market share in a difficult economic scenario.
  • A reckoning for Big Tech: Shifts in demand, new competition and the blurring of product categories mean that gravity is finally starting to affect technology leaders, forcing new challenges and new strategies from them in 2023.
  • The era of “bubble up” culture: Technological and societal trends have split traditional segments into different ideological and interest based communities. Increasingly, effective marketing will require marketers to target messaging based on these elements.
  • Price vs. planet: A false dichotomy: Marketers will need to be mindful of ‘greenwashing’ accusations, and should challenge the idea that eco-friendly initiatives necessarily result in higher costs. Indeed, the opposite might be true in some cases.
  • The clash of demand, delivery and disruption: In a time of unprecedented global supply-chain disruption consistent inventory and reliable delivery will emerge as a key brand asset. Contrary to popular opinion, marketers actually have an important role to play in managing and minimizing these disruptions.

There is little doubt uncertainty will rule in 2023, but savvy marketers who are able to drive transformative change in key areas can benefit from emerging opportunities and not just survive, but thrive.

Carolyn Murphy, VP, Americas at WARC