By Avi Bhojani, group CEO, BPG
As we welcome 2023 with ‘meta-optimism’ in the GCC, we can expect it to be the best year yet for the regional marcomms industry. The GCC’s economy is witnessing a renaissance on the back of stable hydrocarbons prices, reforms that attract a totally new genre of expats and consumption particularly of high value purchases – at an all-time high.
Here are some of my predictions for 2023.
Content over performance marketing
At the onset of Covid-19 three years ago, the world pivoted to digital channels for consumption of news, products and services. Most marketers shifted their marcomms dollars to performance marketing and digital media, most often at the cost of content. It was almost as if the content had to simply grab eyeballs and not persuade or position the product or service. I believe it has taken a dramatic turn. In 2023, we will witness a far greater emphasis and allocation of marketing budgets to quality and award-winning content that drives conversion and builds brand love and consumer loyalty in a dynamic business landscape. Ultimately, well-crafted content connects with consumers in a more authentic way, reducing the need to chase and grab eyeballs.
Back to the basics: the brand
In the last couple of years marketers were resorting to tactical, short-term stimuli of activation, promotion and price points. Marketers will go back to thinking long-term. We will see the resurgence of brand communication and a greater focus on strengthening brand love and brand differentiators. Besides with the current ‘next-gen’ that puts a huge premium on authentic brands that have a purpose beyond sales, the need for a brand differentiated by purpose is often the most important consideration. The brand is back.
Customer experience over customer carrots
This year – more than ever – most marcomms programmes will be omni-channel with a central focus on customer experience (CX). Customers who do not have a holistic brand experience or have an inconsistent experience are less likely to become loyal buyers.
Integration is here to stay
Whether you call it brand orchestration or omni-channel, savvy marketers are beginning to realise that silo-driven marcomms campaigns and budget allocations can tick all boxes but they cannot persuade brand love and unified brand experiences. An immersive and integrated marcomms programme will not only be more cost- and time-efficient but will also have greater impact. Personally, I am seeing more requests for proposal (RFPs) that integrate creative content, PR, social media and media into one silo-free brief in 2023.
Social is not just an extension of PR or media
With customers expecting more from brands across all touchpoints, we will see a greater focus and budget allocations for social media going beyond pure community management. The end of third-party cookies will see more attention being focused on social, mainstreaming it. For several product categories, budgets for social media may even exceed TV/ outdoor budget allocations. Increasingly, we will witness social content creation budgets exceeding creative advertising or PR retainers.
Metaverse will be a new marcomms channel
Predictions on the metaverse being a multi-trillion industry in a couple of years vary but are uniformly bullish. The Dubai Metaverse Strategy aims to attract more than 1,000 companies in the fields of blockchain and metaverse and support more than 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030. The digital landscape shaped by web 3.0 continues to evolve, mirroring reality and going beyond just websites, apps and platforms – which is why I believe all serious marketers will need a well-articulated metaverse strategy executed in 2023. Last September, we launched BPG’s virtual headquarters, BPGverse – a virtual space for interactions and engagement between agency teams, clients and brands, representing an immersive approach to marcomms solutions. The current downturn of crypto notwithstanding, web 3.0 is here to stay, as is the metaverse.
We are fortunate to live in the GCC, a region on a strong growth trajectory with meta projects like NEOM taking shape in Saudi Arabia and visionary agendas such as Dubai’s D33 and positive regulatory reforms. We are indeed blessed.