Client predictions for 2023

To do list for 2023…

Brands will understandably approach 2023 with caution, yet those we spoke to are not only optimistic, but excited about driving change across hospitality, leisure, travel and luxury. Here, our clients give their predictions for the year ahead (and we show how branding can help them deliver their goals)…

1. A return to brand-building

“One of the most exciting opportunities for marketers, designers and brand managers is to fully unleash the power of human connections,” says Diego Raso, vice president, product & marketing at Sodexo. “Intuitively, we’ve always known that relationships are a critical human need, but perhaps now more than ever we understand how these connections are crucially and uniquely linked with wellbeing and happiness.”

Without have been working with Diego for the last five years, when we first created Modern Recipe – corporate catering for human beings. The brand has grown across the world, including to 269 sites in the US. We’ve now refreshed it for its next stage of growth in 2023 and beyond. “Great brands in 2023 will help humans connect with themselves, with others, and with the planet,” says Diego.

At The Wolseley Hospitality Group (TWHG), Hannah Berry, director of marketing, PR and communications, has challenged her team to tell stories in more imaginative ways that will resonate with customers. “With the cost of living crisis and rising energy bills, 2023, particularly the first six months, will be incredibly challenging for all businesses,” she says. “But we always try to focus on storytelling in our marketing, to highlight the reasons that make our experiences special so that we can connect on an emotional level with our customers.”

In wellbeing, Dahyana Paga, chief marketing officer at Aspria, believes that, when it comes to brand content, consumers will prioritise purpose and value. “This is why collaborations and content partnerships will be centre stage in 2023,” she explains. “Reaching out to influencers and maximising the power of our brand ambassadors will be of increased focus for us. People will care less and less about who is generating your brand content, whether it’s curated by marketing teams or user-generated – it’s the added-value that will matter.”

How branding can help: make sure your agency is designing for people, not the latest trends. Finding a timeless story no-one else can tell will be the only way to cut through and engage with your customers in 2023.

2.  Tech for humanity

Once you have that story, everything else follows. For Lauren Wilson, chief marketing officer at Third Space, her focus will be on leveraging the power of tech for new and existing members. “With the launch of our new CRM system we will be able to track our sales leads from source to member-joining, allowing us to optimise our advertising campaigns and support smart acquisition,” she says. “We are working on a lot of new retention tools, including more sophisticated tracking of all workouts and encouragement for members via the Third Space app.”

A new app will also help to underpin James Mundy’s ambition to change the perception of school food, as food & retail transformation director for schools & universities at Sodexo.

“That’s difficult to do against some strong headwinds (the current economic situation, food inflation, labour costs, the threat of recession),” he explains. “But there’s some great work being done in the digital ordering space, and I’m excited about the app we’re creating, which is helping us build participation and engagement. The app means that students can see the menu ahead of time, pre-order their food, click-and-collect when they’re ready and beat the queues. It’s also helping us build closer relationships with our end-users and communicate directly with parents and pupils so we can keep building our offering around what they want and need.”

How branding can help: by ensuring every single touchpoint is optimised to create a holistic brand experience.

The only way to stand out is by daring to be different, to lead

Elena Fotiadi, The Thinking Traveller

3. Dare to be different

We’ve all felt the rush of collective excitement over a new, ground-breaking idea. But how many of us follow through? How often do we regress, in fear of the unknown? There’s no room for that in 2023.

“With the luxury travel market growing at an unprecedented rate in the last few years, there has been a multiplication of identical competing companies claiming homogenous values, expertise and luxury experiences,” says Elena Fotiadi, head of brand & partnerships at The Thinking Traveller. “We know how passionately, professionally and thoughtfully we select our villas, which can only be rented through us. In the context of a foggy, crowded market, our big task will be to visually and conceptually stand out. The only way to do that is to stay truthful to and passionate about what you do – and dare to be different, to lead.”

It works in hospitality, too. TWHG will open two large new restaurants in 2023, both very different from each other. “That’s an exciting and important proposition from my team’s perspective, as the entire marketing and comms strategy will be unique for each,” Hannah explains. “With the new restaurants, my team will expand this year, which also brings growth opportunities for existing team members. We are also concentrating on our CRM and data more than ever before, to make all our comms more targeted and personalised.”

How to do this / how branding can help: Can you vividly articulate what makes your brand different? Defining Your Difference is our pocket guide to help brands do just that. If you haven’t given it a go yet, it’s free to receive here.

There’s a school of thought that says creativity thrives out of difficult times. Brave brands that stand for something will stand out in 2023.

Without create brands that make a difference. Receive our Defining Your Difference pocket guide to your inbox or if you’d like to discuss how your brand can connect with today’s consumers, get in touch on 02070999080 or [email protected]

This article first appeared in The Brief, a fortnightly email with conversations and provocation for leaders and founders of brands. Just sign up here to receive it directly to your inbox – and join the debate.


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