10 Consumer and Marketing Trends to be tracking for 2023

I love tracking trends and changes in human behavior. It’s where social science can meet business opportunity. This post looks at five consumer trends and five marketing trends for 2023. Under each trend, we examine the implications further through a couple questions: Why is this happening? & What does it mean for you? Because I advise a number of clients from the travel industry, I have also added an additional application specifically to that industry.

The list is the result of data collection across industries throughout the year, personal monitoring of shifts through research and experience, and conversations with other industry thought leaders. Collectively, these Top 10 trends represent the intersection of data and observation points, as items that percolated to the top. They should definitely be on your radar for 2023!

We’ve been through a dynamically shifting business environment since March 2020 when the pandemic began, triggering changes that most of us have never before experienced. That pace of change is now ever present – with some developments which would have happened anyway, and others prompted or accelerated by post-pandemic behavior.

While no prediction is ever 100% certain, it can be reassuring to know a bit about what is coming to be better prepared for possible challenges. Or even better – finding opportunity in one of the trends!


Five Consumer Trends

1. From WE to ME

It may not be where we wish society would go, but it’s where we likely need to go first, following such a pivotal event as a pandemic. Concern for the collective is out, and it’s all about “ME”. If that sounds like talking to a toddler, there are some ugly parallels in terms of self-centered attitudes.

But the flip side is a focus on personal growth and reflection. Expect the negative side of this to show itself in short circuit customer anger, or concern for oneself over others. The positive side manifests with those who helps people realize their inner potential, or travel desires, for example.

Why is this happening?

We were asked to sacrifice for the collective good of all for the last 2.5 years. As many as 4 in 10 Americans know someone personally who died of Covid, and 7 in 10 actually had Covid. The impact and loss was real. A focus now on the self is in order to heal. Centralized authority was also accepted more readily during the pandemic, but as the crisis passes, a return to individual freedom is the norm.

What does it mean for you?

There is opportunity in the shift towards ME. 94% of millenials have made a personal improvement commitment. And research shows we’re willing to spend $300/month on self improvement. In fact the global personal development market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 5.5% from 2022-2030 and reach $67 billion by 2030. The We to Me movement also includes defiance of perfection. It’s about embracing individual style and choices. And the We to Me movement questions centralized authority in favor of personal judgement of what is right. Anything you can do to play into these sentiments of personal empowerment and freedom, with your business offering will be well received by consumers.

For a travel related spin, this could mean emphasizing personal choices, specially catered and customized itineraries over group tour options, for example.

2. Fatigue and rebellion

Consumers have been bombarded with crisis after crisis – pandemic, political unrest, war, extreme environmental events, and now an economic downturn. They are feeling overwhelmed and rebellious. They’re resisting authority, restraint and digital surveillance. They’re also resisting the need for personal perfection. Anything that you can do to ease the customer experience would be welcome.

Why is this happening?

Persistent staffing shortages and supply chain issues have resulted in an unprecedented decline in levels of customer service. In many cases it’s downright atrocious. Combine this with customer fatigue and rebellion, and it’s a caustic mix.

What does it mean for you?

In 2023 consumer loyalty will be won and lost through personal connection and making customer feel valued. Simply listening, and trying to do the right thing, will go a long way. Think respect, compassion, and understanding while walking a mile in your customers shoes.

In terms of the travel industry, there are a number of things to consider. We all want clients to have a seamless travel experience. But we also know there are still many things beyond our control related to supply chain and staffing issues with airlines and destinations. Beyond doing your homework to avoid issues, being there for your clients if things do go wrong, is not only good customer service, but the best marketing you can possibly do for your business. Customers talk, and you want them to be boasting about how you went above and beyond!

3. Reconnection

Consumers are craving re-connection – both in person, and with local businesses that were there for them the last several years. They’re willing to spend on homegrown brands, support community, local manufacturing, and generally anything that triggers “intentional spending.” Above all they are seeking human connection and interaction. Remember that in your customer service, and think long and hard about what to automate and what to keep as a human touch point.

Why is this happening?

We’ve been collectively deprived of human connection, which as a species we need to survive and thrive. In 2023 the rebound is real. The trend to get out traveling and experiencing live events started in Q3 and Q4 of 2022, but going into 2023 it fully ramps up.

What does it mean for you?

Any offering – be it travel, entertainment or events, which helps connect friends, family or business colleagues will be well received. This also applies to virtual connections being connected in real life to further deepen the relationship. As a softening economy collides with this trend in 2023, intentional spending which favors durability and timeliness (buy less, last longer) might be something to position around. While online purchasing may well be more convenient for some items, in person purchasing is still desirable – especially if combined with a unique customer experience only available in person. Think touching, feeling products, trying them out in an in store environment, or being given special access to added benefits as part of a premium customer experience.

In the travel industry, this trend may manifest in opportunities for group travel as part of reconnection – think an extended family gathering at a Tuscan villa, a girlfriend group adventure kayaking in Belize, or curating a group of solo travelers on safari in Tanzania.

4. Segmented and divided in new ways

Consumers are segmented and divided in all new ways. The divisions started during the pandemic, and 2022 solidified them. Many of those divisions will remain into 2023 because they have become permanent. We’re divided on risk tolerance, comfort with ambiguity, state control, climate change and politics. We’re divided over virtual and back to the office work. We’re divided into all new segments of needs following the pandemic. While division can be negative, there is opportunity in new segments and unmet needs.

Why is this happening?

The pandemic forced us to make choices based on personal needs and values. Social media helped amplify those choices to others online when we were forced to spend so much time there. Now, as life returns to normal, the lines drawn are hard to erase. And in some cases, the choices made will redefine a generation for decades.

What does it mean for you?

Whenever consumers realign themselves along lines based on values, beliefs and behaviors, or when they dramatically change where they live and how they work, as they did during the pandemic, there are bound to be unmet needs emerge. And when you add in there the gaping void which is customer service these days, there is bound to be opportunity in meeting the needs of a newly formed segment. Divisiveness has allowed us to identify groups deserving of our attention – take the elevated narrative around diversity, equity and inclusion movements. Or the recognition and buying power of the over 50 year old consumer, largely forgotten by many marketing departments for example.

One curious new segment is the knowledge worker able to work at a distance from anywhere in the world while traveling. Previously this may have been dismissed as 20-somethings living a laptop lifestyle schlepping between hostels. Now it’s mature professionals working, traveling and living abroad on their own terms.

5. Live for the moment

After 2+ years of constraint, consumers are now all about freedom. For many, that is defined as “personal freedom” (think WE to ME). Live for the moment manifests as taking risks and chasing new experiences. Travel and entertainment should flourish into 2023, since they are still in catch up mode after disruption. Small pleasures will also have their day, especially if the economy falters.

Why is this happening?

The thinking is this: It’s now or never – an attitude that will dictate work, life and travel. The pandemic taught us to never again take life for granted.

What does it mean for you?

While 2022 already saw many people spending freely to get what they want, fears around the economy have put a mild break on this. Going into 2023 expect the attitude of “living for the moment” to continue. Actions will be quantified by means – for those economically well off, under little debt, they will continue to spend freely on trips denied the last two years. For others, living in the moment will mean getting back to “small pleasures” – like live concerts, theater, and performance experiences. The cross over of “intentional spending” noted above, combined with a softening economy, might mean that “live for the moment” motorcycle purchase might be a resale off Facebook Marketplace, rather than a new store purchase, for example.

The travel spin on this trend means there will still be demand for bucket list destinations, and not putting off travel plans for the future. A softening economy might mean more demand for domestic travel for families, or those burdened with debt and fears of income stability. Certainly mindfulness of travel deals will be important for some segments of the traveling public.

Five Marketing Trends

1. Digital media regulation

Increased disinformation, personal data use for financial gain by social media platforms, and the growth of platforms with ties to China (think TikTok) and governmental influence,  have all lead to cries for more regulation around digital media. There’s also Twitter, under 100% control by Elon Musk, with a huge global reach distributing information.

When combined with the consumer trend of We to Me and Fatigue and Rebellion, it makes for a potentially caustic mix. Expect increased regulation all round. Perhaps even a ban on TikTok in the US.

Why is this happening?

There has been a general movement towards consumer data protection the last several years. It started with the GDPR – General data protection and regulation in the EU in 2018. Many US states have followed suit with their own regulations. iOS14 gave transparency and control over data sharing to users, which was a game changer, making it impossible to monitor behavior and share third party data.

What does it mean for you?

Third party user data was critical to social media platforms like Facebook, or Google to target ads. It has also been critical to tracking consumer behavior on our websites through tools like Google Analytics. There is a continued shift in algorithms as platforms adjust. And in July 2023 Google will shift to Google Analytics 4.0 rendering Universal Analytics properties no longer able to process data. Google is adjusting to a move predictive analytics model, less dependent on third party data tracking.

The bottom line for anyone using paid ads is less effective audience targeting on social media moving into 2023. It also means there is an increased importance in owning your own list and direct connection to your customer base – think email, phone or text ability. And it would likely be prudent to capture and back up audience analytics now, in order to have some comparative data, once the switch to Google Analytics 4.0 is made.

Specific implications for the travel industry might include insuring you are not overly tied to one social media platform. I have met some very successful travel agents who base their entire business on a Facebook page. They don’t have a website, and they only have direct connection data for people who have become clients. In my mind that is a significant risk in the current climate. Migrating all connections to your own database is a must. I know some travel influencers who use only Instagram as their primary channel for business which could be a huge risk if they were ever shut out of the account. As a general rule, when risk increases, diversifying to lesson the possible impact is a good defense.

2. Changing nature of social media

Blame it all on the massive growth and popularity of TikTok, but pretty much all social media platforms have shifted towards “discovery-based content” first made popular there. The explosion of users on the platform has been unsettling for many American based social media platforms. Currently TikTok has 1 billion users/month. Instagram has 1.4 billion. While that is still a sizeable difference, it’s the dramatically fast uptake in use, and what is driving that behavior, that has other media companies watching very closely.

Discovery content is the algorithm serving up content that it thinks you will enjoy, based on your interactions, comments, dwell time on posts and searches, but also on your entire digital profile gathered through AI. If you talk to anyone who is on TikTok, they will tell you that the platform has refined its algorithm to read you very quickly, and serve up content often deemed almost addictive!

The bottom line is that this change in how content is spread now has little to do with who you are following, or your number of followers, if you’re a content creator. That shift to discovery content massively impacts organic reach and how you go after it, as well as the type of content which is created.

Why is this happening?

Fierce competition is driving change. And when that competition comes from outside the US and threatens many current successful US based social media companies, it gets a lot of attention. TikTok came up with a content formula that proved addictive, and now other social platforms are scrambling to copy elements of that success.

What does it mean for you?

Follower counts in the future will likely be more of a vanity metric, as discovery algorithms favor creative content that resonates with a particular segment of the population. Given that video is heavily favored on almost every platform these days, with short form vertical content leading the way, if you are not currently doing any or much of this type of content (stories, reels, lives, YouTube shorts) now is the time to at least dip your toes into it. But at the end of the day, the best strategy for social media is to know where your audience hangs out, and then pick one or two platforms which align with that, and nurture your audience there through meaningful and entertaining content. But also be ever mindful of capturing that audience data off platform via landing pages, links and offers to capture their email in your database. Given so much turbulence right now with some platforms (Twitter anyone?) and the storm of regulation likely headed our way, it is now more important than ever to be diversified – not being hostage to only one platform to connect with your audience, as well as having that direct contact ability with your customers outside of the platform.

Because social media travel content tends to be very visual, there is real opportunity here if you are aware of the type of content which is being favored for organic reach. But it also signals opportunity if you’ve previously dismissed the fact you haven’t built a large following, as a reason to not bother with social media. But also bear this in mind when working with travel influencers. Their awareness about what type of content works well, and their ability to produce it, will increasingly be more important than their actual follower metrics.

3. AI omnipresent

Artificial intelligence is already everywhere, we just don’t see it. AI is used for audience targeting, audience engagement, and even for content creation. AI assisted content creation is likely to be the biggest break out area in 2023, with copy writing tools like being able to automate the writing of marketing copy, sales copy, web content, Facebook ads, blog posts, SEO content, captions and video scripts. Although it feels like the early days of putting Photoshop in everyone’s hands and telling them they are now designers, I do think it will serve a purpose as a pre-writing tool, to which you add personality. can also generate original images from descriptions, allowing easy access to custom images, without copyright infringement or payment to use. Used well AI holds promise for creativity, but I suspect it will just generate a deluge of mediocrity initially.

Augmented reality (AR) also continues to grow, and will likely be the juncture where the Metaverse and Web 3.0 starts to feel more real in a cross over and meshing of our real life and digital life. We’re still a ways off on the whole Meta thing, but viewed in the rear-view mirror, 2022-2023 will be a pivotal year in crystalizing how it will form.

Why is this happening?

There is no stopping technology – especially technology which offers efficiencies, cost savings and effectiveness previously unheard of. Artificial intelligence will just become part of life.

What does it mean for you?

Just know that even if you choose to not use AI, many of your competitors will, and that will fundamentally change the marketplace for copy writing, images and SEO for content shared on the web. As with any change, knowledge is power, so I’d encourage you to play with some of these tools yourself, just to know what is possible. Then evaluate if it could help you in any way.

4. Customer service void

A positive customer experience can be some of our best marketing. But much of the last 2 years during the pandemic it has been lacking. Blame it on broken supply chains, shifts in consumer behavior, shut downs, and regulations. Many of the economies realized in the name of the pandemic, impacted customer service severely. And now as normal demand resumes, we have labor shortages and a shaky economy, which are being used to further justify not returning service levels to normal.

Right now the bar is so low in terms of customer service (some would argue just common decency would be a start), that any company who goes out of their way to be on the customers side, and have a human touch, will win favor. 2/3 of consumers say companies need to do a better job listening to them right now. We’re talking low hanging fruit here, just to make people feel heard. Of any trend listed in these top 10, this one likely represents the most opportunity overall.

Why is this happening?

The pandemic fundamentally changed the way businesses interacted with customers. Staffing levels, supply chain issues, and cost savings justified during the pandemic have not recovered. 73% of people say customer experience is important, but only 49% of customers think companies do a good job. A Price Waterhouse Cooper study on what people value most in their customer experience, noted efficiency, convenience, friendly service, knowledgeable service, easy payments as items which stood out. But human interaction and personalization also stood out.

What does it mean for you?

Customer loyalty in 2023 will be won through personal connections. The bottom line is – make it seamless for them. And think long and hard about automating anything where a personal contact might win favor. Above all, listen and take action. Customers are likely telling you loud and clear their frustrations. Address even a fraction of their concerns and you’ll likely have customers for life. The opportunity for brand switching has never been so high. Just remember that that works both ways!

The opportunity to play this well within the travel industry is tremendous. Obviously paying attention to all the areas of concern noted above is important – but to emphasize all the touch points throughout the entire purchase, fulfillment and follow up cycle. Social listening online is another opportunity, being sure to respond to comments across all platforms and rating sites. Since Twitter has become a default channel where customer complaints are often aired publicly, it would also be prudent to monitor that platform in particular. Best practice is to reply quickly, and switch to a private direct channel such as email or phone. And who knows, maybe you can pick up on a customer complaint to a competitor, and make it right – just like a Westjet pilot did when he delivered pizza to Air Canada passengers stranded on a canceled snowbound flight. Read about that one here!

5. Hidden communities

Communities can be in real life (IRL), online (virtual) or hybrid (a bit of both). Most communities in the past have been discoverable in some way. The trend now is towards niche communities, and groups which are harder to find. Think of them as little islands of people out there protecting their data and identity from anyone they haven’t vetted. While it’s the ultimate revolt against marketers, it’s also the ultimate goldmine of loyalty if you earn the right to be there.

Why is this happening?

Combined with the rising tide of protecting identity, and a rebellious ME first attitude, hidden communities are on the rise.  They are also to a certain extent being fueled by the first iterations of Web 3.0 gated communities through NFTs and creator coins. Hidden communities are really just islands of like minded people, hanging out together, and looking out for each other. Call it the ultimate revolt against social media algorithms and personal data use for financial gain by big tech. For some it’s just a cool new way to find community and like minded people. For other early adopters, looking to try out new technologies like Mastodon, it represents a gateway into Web 3.0

What does it mean for you?

There’s opportunity here, but you need to earn the right to be invited in. You can’t just wash up on the island and start shouting about what you’re selling. There’s also opportunity in co-creation with consumers, and collaborating. Some communities are gated with ownership of a creator coin or NFT. Some live in places like Discord, where an invitation to join a community is required. For example Mark Schaefer’s RISE community, previously on and now on Discord, are given access as audience members to live recordings of podcasts, or to hang our virtually in a virtual space together and play with new spaces in the metasphere. They are also collaborating writing a book together. While much of the community is in the virtual space, this closed group also has the opportunity to meet up in person – at an invitation only lunch at Social Media Marketing World in March for example.

For those who may not fully understand the metasphere and Web 3.0 (and there are A LOT of people in that category), a more tangible example might be private Facebook groups. I have a couple clients in the travel industry who are the moderators for very active groups of 1000+ members. These private groups are an incredible example of members helping members, where the founder and moderator simply positions themselves as a the person to lead some conversations, or be the source of professional help. The Club Med Fanatics group is a great example. Being a private group, and essentially “gated” with vetted membership, the founder also has a unique opportunity to data capture contact information and demographics as part of her owned database of contacts.

Another example of hidden groups are communities that have gathered online through audio platforms. Initially Clubhouse was the dominant player, but Twitter Spaces have since become a more viable alternative – incorporating the capabilities as an app feature, rather than the sole app function as it was on Clubhouse. Groups of people from around the globe found each other in these shared interest audio spaces during the pandemic. Many of these communities have grown further, and have been solidified with real life meet ups post pandemic. Pat Flynn, from  was an early adopter in this area, as was Mike Stelzner, the founder of Social Media Marketing World.

For those who are keen to be on the leading edge of tech and the emergence of Web 3.0, there are new communities forming on While Mastodon has technically been around since 2016, it seems to be garnering a lot of attention right now as Twitter users, unhappy with the instability that Musk is creating, go looking for a replacement. Mastodon is a decentralized platform. Users sign up and select a “neighborhood” or community to be associated with. Some neighborhoods are public and some are private. Some require you to apply for membership. Some allow you to sign up with an email address. But the neighborhood becomes an extension of your handle. It’s based on decentralized servers, each hosting a neighborhood group, but also interconnected with the federated group, or “Fediverse” where all of the groups see each others content. It’s kind of like having a Facebook group, but also access to all of Facebook. Or one big Twitter feed, with the ability to be visually associated with a group – your own small island. Some say it feels like the early days of Twitter – except posts are called “toots” rather than “tweets.”

One cool feature is the built in ability to capture emails right out of the gate for anyone who hosts a neighborhood and its server. It’s an interesting evolution of decentralized social media, something worthy of checking out. There will likely be many more competitive shifts like this in 2023, but Mastodon is an early hint at the direction things might take. Check it out here: After the meltdown of, Joe Pulizzi took his Tilt coin holders community over to Mastodon.

Hidden communities will be on the rise in 2023. And their ability to cross virtual, in person and hybrid is what will further solidify the connections made there on those islands!

So there you have it. Perhaps not everything you need to know moving into 2023, but certainly a whole lot to think about. As the saying goes, “The future is already here, just not widely distributed.” These 10 Consumer and Marketing Trends for 2023 certainly hint at where we are headed.

Curious how these trends line up with last year’s predictions? Check out Five Marketing Mega Trends for 2022 here. It can be fun to go back and see what came to fruition, what may have been completely off the mark, and what is still coming down the pipeline – but on delay. But for the record, I pretty much NAILED it!

Mary Charleson

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