5 milestones from 2023 – and what we can learn

When it comes to trends, hindsight really is 20/20. So, when things succeed or fail in a big way, we take time to consider why. And when we see a sea change on the horizon, we look ahead to anticipate needs and be prepared when the wave hits. Here are five noteworthy events from 2023—and the lessons we can take away from them for the coming year, and beyond.

Hottest Year on Record

2023 was the hottest year on record (and according to some scientists, possibly the hottest year ever) for the eighth year in a row. As global temperatures continue to rise, more frequent weather events will test (and hopefully drive improvements) in building practices, resource management, emergency response and have ripple effects throughout everyday life.

Takeaway for 2024:

Plan now for products and processes that enable your company and your customers to weather a warmer, less predictable climate. (This year’s Consumer Electronics Show featured emerging innovations from whole-home battery back-up and electricity-generating glass to moisture-farming devices. Look for more on that topic soon.)

Girl Power Rocks the Economy

Despite a ticketing fiasco, Taylor Swift’s “Eras” Tour boosted the global economy in the neighborhood of $5 billion (according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia), packing stadiums as well as hotels, eateries and social media feeds. Meanwhile, Forbes credits “Barbie” (Warner Brothers’ highest grossing feature ever, earning more than $1.4 billion at the box office) with saving the movie theater industry—at least for now.

Takeaway for 2024:

Both Swift and Barbie (not to mention Beyonce, the force behind another summer blockbuster tour) have built their brands on empowering women, creating a fiercely loyal following and upending expectations and old paradigms. Use their success as a masterclass in consistent brand building and creating an authentic connection with your audience—and the courage to be boldly true to your brand.

AI Goes Mainstream

While AI technologies have been in development for decades, the public release of ChatGPT (and huge leaps in the quality of image generation tools like Midjourney) triggered an avalanche of awareness and adoption of generative AI into every facet of life. While business leaders and lawmakers scramble to keep up, technology continues to evolve at a breakneck pace.

Takeaway for 2024:

Stay alert and ready to learn. AI offers huge opportunities for both possibilities and pitfalls. We say embrace and experiment—with appropriate guardrails and oversight in place. As AI-generated video continues to improve, opportunities for deepfakes and misinformation abound (particularly troublesome in a U.S. presidential election year). Savvy consumers will demand new levels of transparency and authenticity from those they interact with.

Twitter Becomes X

Elon Musk’s purchase and subsequent rebranding of The-Platform-Formerly-Known-as-Twitter made waves throughout the year, including a mass exodus of advertisers and speculation about the company’s future. Operational decisions aside, the seemingly overnight rebranding felt rash and reckless, further alienating users and media outlets alike.

Takeaway for 2024:

Major re-branding efforts can be worthwhile, but change is always a challenge. A major brand transition involves deep consideration of current brand equity, meaningful communication with key stakeholders, and the tools and time to make the change a positive experience that generates momentum and excitement.

Generation Alpha Hits Adolescence

Born 2010 to mid 2020s, the cohort following Gen Z (mostly children of millennials) is now entering its teen years and already asserting its influence. The first generation to be born entirely in the 21st century, they experienced a global pandemic as young children, where they convened in virtual communities on gaming platforms like Roblox, Fortnite and Minecraft. Today, they’re shaping the future of social through online community building while recognizing the impact of digital fatigue and the value of taking tech time-outs.

Takeaway for 2024:

While building products marketers are still primarily focused on those of home-buying age, (with Baby Boomers currently making up the largest percentage), it’s not too soon to start thinking about this new audience. Technically fluent, creative, diverse, and eager for authentic connection both online and in person, Gen Alpha is likely to drive paradigm shifts across the spectrum, from education and workforce trends to marketing strategies. Those who want to reach them will need to adapt accordingly.

Conclusion

We can never know exactly what the coming year will bring, but with a little reflection and a willingness to learn, we can be ready to carpe the hell outta 2024.

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