5 Business Growth Trends for 2023

With a third of the globe expected to be in recession this year and business confidence sitting at record lows, it’s perhaps worth having a look at how we can all future proof our businesses for what seems like an inevitable downturn.

Happy New Year! Well, will it be? For some businesses, perhaps not.

With a third of the globe expected to be in recession this year (according to the IMF), and business confidence sitting at record lows in Aotearoa, it’s perhaps worth having a look at how we can all future proof our businesses for what seems like an inevitable downturn.  

It may feel a bit doom and gloomy, but it’s worth remembering that whilst recessions hit businesses hard, they contain opportunities. Many a successful business, or millionaire has been made in a recession. 

So, what are the top five business growth trends expected in 2023? 

Genuine sustainability. 

This is an obvious one. If you are a business currently greenwashing its way to more sales, watch out. Not only are various countries finally cracking down on companies inflating their positive impact with fines, but consumers have access to more information than ever before and are wising up to greenwashing. We get so many well thought out questions from consumers, probing into our choices now that we never received even a year ago. People know better, so businesses trying to pull the wool over their eyes with fluffy statements and pastel-coloured websites are fooling no one. A sustainability strategy, with genuine action, and honest communication about the journey your business is on is not only what our planet needs but will also engender loyalty and trust from the growing number of consumers who demand this (75% of millennials and Gen Z’s, according to Nielsen). And no, a vague commitment to ‘net zero’ by 2050 will not cut it.  

The rise of video content. 

I say rise, but really this has been around for a while now with the ever-increasing popularity of TikTok. It still surprises me how many business owners in Aotearoa are trying to ignore this incredibly powerful platform. Used well, almost every industry and business can benefit from a good TikTok strategy. I mentor lots of entrepreneurs and I think they are all sick to death of me bleating on about how important a video content strategy, and yes, a TikTok strategy are to their business. Even if you don’t think you know what you are doing (and remember no one did to start with), spend time on the app, start to learn the culture and what works, and start testing content. Businesses have been made on TikTok.  

Artificial intelligence becoming seriously useful. 

Heard of ChatGPT? Tome? Perplexity? These are AI tools that are going to seriously change the game — and quickly. Chat GPT is considered ‘the best artificial intelligence chatbot ever released…’ as it produces written text almost on par with human conversation and has produced assignments as good ‘as a decent student’. It can write books, code websites, plan you an entire year of content… it’s equal parts incredible and terrifying. University might be about to get a whole lot easier, but for business owners, tools like this can offer some serious efficiencies. Copy.ai is another option and the current darling of the social media manager as not only will it come up with ideas for blog posts, videos, and social media captions, but it will write you some pretty damn good ones too. Don’t sleep on the use of these clever (and ever improving) tools to make your life easier.

Vanity metrics are out, community is in. 

Followers, likes, views – sure they’re a moderately useful measure, but they tell one small side of a much larger story. I have seen countless social media accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers… and engagement rates under 0.01%. Completely unhelpful and in fact I would argue it actually makes your brand look bad. Instead of chasing broad audiences, you need to start building an immersive customer experience that makes your consumer feel part of your brand. Great loyalty programs, deep understanding of your customer, and constantly seeking out and implementing customer feedback are key parts of building a brand that builds that connection. This is going to be enormously important in the current cost of living crisis when we are all keeping a much closer eye on our spending. How will you get across the value of your product to your consumer? Building community is a huge part of that. Social media has made this easier than ever, but I still see most brands post something on their social media, then simply walk away. Have conversations with people in the comments, respond via video to great questions (or even rude comments, that can be done very well). Act like a human, not a faceless corporation.  

Who we trust is changing. 

Trust in big influencers is diminishing and the rise of micro and even nano-influencers continues. Personally, I’ve never liked the idea of big-name ambassadors, it has never seemed an authentic way to build your brand. *Insert celebrities name here* opinion on something has absolutely zero impact on mine. And this is becoming a bigger and bigger trend as consumers start craving authentic connection with those they follow online. The aesthetic Instagram feeds are still popular to watch, but they are not the converters they once were. Real reviews, imperfect people, and authentic conversations are dominating and content creators who can switch to this realfluencing (I’m going to coin that term) are where you should be looking to grow your brand. Affiliate marketing is one way to take advantage of this change - offering people who genuinely love your brand the ability to be rewarded for talking about it. Done well, affiliate marketing can be incredibly effective. Done badly though, it can steam dramatically out of control and cause all sorts of problems.  

To wrap up, it looks like 2023 is going to be a year where businesses that prioritize sustainability, embrace video content and artificial intelligence, focus on building a sense of community with their customers, and look at methods of marketing outside traditional influencers will be in the best position to succeed. These trends will be especially important to keep in mind as we head into what could be a rough economic climate. While a recession may seem inevitable, it is important to remember that it also contains opportunities for growth and success. By staying ahead of these trends and positioning your business for the future, you can future-proof your organization and emerge stronger on the other side.