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Dentsu Creative’s ‘A Tale of New Cities’ report highlights the 12 trends that will drive the industry in 2023

The report explores the modern dualities of progress and regression, optimism and anxiety, a shifting balance of old and new, technology and humanity, innovation and tradition

Dentsu Creative has launched its 2023 Trends report, ‘A Tale of New Cities’, which outlines the top 12 trends that will drive and disrupt the industry in the ongoing year.

“A Tale Of New Cities” explores the modern dualities of progress and regression, optimism and anxiety, a shifting balance of old and new, technology and humanity, innovation and tradition.

Packaged in six pairs, with both the challenge and opportunity for society examined for each, Dentsu Creative unpacks what the best of times and the worst of times will mean for brands. Developed by strategists and futurists across its network, the report offers a diversity of perspective.

The Twelve trends shaping 2023 as per the report are:  

  • The End of Monoculture

Top-down sources of authority and inspiration are less relevant in a world where younger generations can see all too clearly the havoc their elders have created. A generation are looking at the systems and stories they have inherited and daring to imagine something different.

  • The Quest for Culture Shock

As Western economies struggle, young consumers seek new sources of inspiration - craving genuine culture shock after “lost” pandemic years. The rise of Korean culture continues, while Asia Pacific embraces the full richness and diversity of the region for inspiration versus looking further afield, a trend we call “East meets East.

  • Mental Health Crisis

Rising anxiety levels fuelled by a bleak economic outlook are powering a mental health crisis. In China, one can see the gamification of mental health and self-analysis. Meanwhile Europe is facing a “mental health recession” as post pandemic anxiety meets a cost-of-living crisis. 

  • The Joy Imperative

Set against a darker macro-economic crisis one can see the desire for small moments of joy and play. “Pickleball”, a playful and silly racket game is one of the fastest growing sports in the world while small luxuries such as flowers have become everyday acts of self-care.

  • Toxicity in Technology

Consumers are questioning their relationship with technology after years of accelerated growth during the pandemic. Concerns over privacy, cyber bullying and misinformation have eroded consumer confidence while a challenging economic outlook slowed adoption of NFTs and cryptocurrency. Screen fatigue has set in, while growth in eCommerce sales slipped backwards post pandemic.   

  • Meta diversity

In parallel, independent voices are campaigning for greater inclusion, representation and accountability within the metaverse and the wider online space. Consumers are campaigning for much greater diversity of representation, while engaging in social media through smaller, niche networks. The balance between privacy and anonymity is being debated with more nuance than in previous years.

  • The Great opt out

Building on 2021’s Great Resignation, 2022 gave rise to the “Quiet quitting” phenomenon; a response to hustle culture where employees simply decided enough was enough. Performative play-think competitive sourdough baking-is being replaced with “low stakes” hobbies and a desire to just be, and be together, rather than relentless self-improve.

  • The Great Outdoors

While opting out of the hustle, we are opting in to nature. Chinese consumers have embraced camping in their millions while parents have embraced a post-pandemic desire to give their children the freedom of the great outdoors. Meanwhile new city models are emerging based on clean air and quality of life.

  • Rebel without a filter

Consumers are drifting away from polished images towards more authentic personas that embrace their inner geek and confound the algorithm. “Goblincore”, “dark academia” and “ugly chic” and the rise of platforms such as Be Real show that surrealism and silliness win versus polished perfection.

  • AI-Identity

Dall E, Stable Diffusion and others are creating new models for how we think about creativity, work and identity. V Tubers use avatars to maintain privacy but engage their fandoms in authentic dialogue. Some consumers are, ironically, finding it easier to engage with two dimensional idols and personas. 

  • Handbrakes on growth

A perfect storm is creating a challenging environment for growth. The rising cost of living meets the rising cost of goods together with ongoing supply chain problems to act as a handbrake on economic growth.  Major economies are predicted to narrowly avoid, or experience, recession.

  • The imperative for good

As a result, businesses are realising that growth and good can no longer be pursued in parallel and that a fundamental reset is required to align commercial success with new business models that rely less on a relentless cycle of consumption. 

What these tensions reflect is a shifting balance: the very new and the very old, the embrace of technology to propel the world forward and the desire to step back and disconnect. Whether our personal outlook is glass half full or glass half empty, it is clear that for 2023 a tale of new cities, new cultures and communities is there to be written.  

Cheuk Chiang, CEO, Dentsu Creative APAC, said, “We all know that 2023 will be another challenging year. A world with immense volatility, inflation, economic uncertainty, and social unrest. But despite what’s happening around us, it’s not all doom and gloom. Across APAC, we are seeing incredible innovation and creativity from people and communities who are shaping an exciting future. People are finding leadership, inspiration, and value in new sources, and with this, new patterns of influence are forming. 

“Our Dentsu Creative trends report acknowledges this shift in balance: the serious realities we’re living in; the challenges we’ll meet this year; but also our desire for inspiration and progress. Amongst this, we showcase platforms where imagined futures are already coming to life, and in tow, the opportunities and tools to shape them.”

Pats McDonald, Chief Strategy Officer, Dentsu Creative, said, "At the close of 2022, it was hard to escape the feeling that eras and empires were ending-or beginning. Around the world we saw immense volatility, as the cost of living spiralled, conservative policies challenged progressive social agendas and energy instability became all too real. As 2023 begins, we see both alarming steps backward as a society- with talk of power cuts, rationing and hyper-inflation- and green shoots of hope. Perhaps most exciting is the sense that individuals and communities are writing their own narratives, rejecting a sense of top down, homogenous cultural influence. Our predictions for 2023 acknowledge the tensions, volatility and struggles facing society today and, on the flip side, the opportunities, tools and platforms that exist to enable communities to build the worlds they want to see."

Fred Levron, Global Chief Creative Officer, dentsu, added, "The new year is riddled with uncertainties. War, inflation, crisis upon crisis. As a society there are huge challenges coming our way. But there are also many certainties. Creativity wins. Emotion wins. Innovation and collaboration wins. Challenging times are no time for business as usual. Our Dentsu Creative trends report explores the challenges coming our way but also the opportunities for brands with the courage and imagination to embrace a new modern creative toolkit and create culture, imagine a better future and make it possible."

Readers who want to access the full report can do so by clicking here.

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