What marketers need to know about Americans' 2023 outlook
Editor’s note: Sam Killip is VP of customer success at consumer research platform Attest.
As we begin 2023, a host of problems could be weighing on Americans’ minds, from an ongoing war in Europe to high inflation and a potential recession, there's plenty to think about.
According to new research, there are four key issues that are top-of-mind for the nation as we transition into the new year.
The third annual U.S. Consumer Trends survey shows that 64% of American consumers are feeling positive about 2023, down just 2% from last year, with 16% holding a negative outlook of the year to come – up from 13%.
Nearly one-quarter of consumers (24%) said that they were most worried about paying for food in 2023, while 17% were most concerned about the price of gas. Outside of money-related worries, 15% cited political upheaval as the issue making them feel most uneasy about 2023.
The report casts light on important trends in consumer sentiment and behaviors for the coming year, providing valuable insights for researchers and marketers who want to stay ahead of the curve in 2023. In this article, we’ll cover four notable findings from the study.
Americans want brands to be more political
Only one-fifth of Americans (20%) say that they don't want brands to be political in 2023, a decline of one percentage point from last year. In terms of issues they want brands to address, poverty (36%) is top of the list, as it was 12 months ago, followed by racism (30%), women's rights, climate change and gun violence (all at 29%). Women's rights is the fastest-growing issue of concern, climbing 6% from last year's report.
Brands need to get the tone right and ensure they are focusing on the right issues. While last year's research showed that Americans wanted brands to make them laugh, the appetite for humorous messaging has fallen five points to 51%. While humor is still the top sentiment that consumers want from brands, motivational (48%) and reassuring (39%) messaging have grown in popularity from last year.
Consumers are getting thrifty
Frugality is a critical trend for 2023. Some 43% of consumers said they will be buying fewer things and consuming less, a jump of 9% from the last data set. Fast fashion items are also falling out of favor, with a net +10% of consumers saying they will buy fewer such items in 2023.
Thrift shopping will be a big pastime in 2023, with 38% of consumers saying they’ll be looking for secondhand bargains to combat the rising cost of living. With 37% of consumers saying they'll be selling their unwanted goods, the pre-loved market could be booming in 2023.
TikTok is the hottest platform
The number of consumers who engage with brands on TikTok has increased by 10 percentage points since last year, up to over one-third (35%). This is the highest growth of all the social platforms, though YouTube and Instagram also saw healthy increases (both at 7%). Overall, engagement with brands on social media has increased by four points to 88%.
However, the good old-fashioned e-mail remains an invaluable channel for brands to reach all age groups, with once per week being the preferred frequency for mailings at 25%. The percentage of consumers who don’t want to receive marketing e-mails is just 12%, down from 13% last year.
Americans are canceling subscriptions (but buying into VR)
Subscription services have been a casualty of the rising cost of living, with 69% of consumers having canceled at least one. TV streaming services were the most likely to be axed at 34%, with music streaming services at 21% and Amazon Prime at 19%. Brands will have a tough time reaching consumers on the right channel in 2023 it seems, with the high cancellation levels of TV streaming services threatening to put a dampener on Netflix's advertising plans.
One thing Americans are getting increasingly interested in is virtual reality (VR). Over a quarter (26%) of U.S. households have a VR headset, while a further 29% of Americans who don’t have a VR headset plan to get one in 2023. Marketers need to look closely at this developing opportunity within virtual worlds for advertising.
Finding new ways to save is becoming an American pastime
Inflation and economic uncertainty continue to cast their dark shadow over the collective American mood. Yet there is a real yearning for more inspiration and motivational marketing for 2023 – consumers want brands to make them feel better about themselves and inspire them to new heights. Meanwhile, there are some interesting opportunities developing around virtual reality and newer social media platforms that marketers must investigate more thoroughly, but subscription brands in particular need to demonstrate value for money.
Brands that embrace consumers' desire for frugality will be best positioned for success in 2023, even if potential profit margins might be slimmer than before.
All figures within this article are taken from research conducted on the Attest platform. The total sample size for the U.S. Consumer Trends report was 2,000 nationally representative working-age consumers based in the United States. The survey concluded on November 7, 2022. The full report can be found here and the research dashboard is available here.