What Google’s ‘Year in Search’ means for 2023

As 2022 circled round the plug hole of history, here at Incite we have been reflecting on what the events of the year mean for  our clients in 2023.

First, let’s take a moment to set the scene. The COVID-19 years of 2020/21 forced us to make changes to our behaviours and confront what is important in life. It shone a light on health, happiness, relationships and work/life balance. And, more so than any other time in living memory, it accelerated our migration to a digital future and brought into sharp focus global issues such as social inequality, the climate crisis and geopolitical and economic instability.

2022 was a challenging year in many ways. It started with the senseless war in Ukraine and ended with the worst cost of living crisis in thirty years and general strike action. Sadly, we lost our Queen and, as a constant presence throughout almost all of our lives, the timing of her death reinforced perceptions that we are living in uncertain and changing times. There was also Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, stock market and crypto currency crashes, record temperatures and myriad other challenges.

According to Google’s ‘Year in Search 2022,’ the most important issues relate to a desire for change. How can I change my life, my career, my outlook? How can I be more original, spontaneous, positive, fearless, a better person? The fact that desire for change, resulting from the issues of 2020/21, was the dominant theme in Google searches through 2022 provides great insight into where the focus lies in 2023. COVID-19 forced us to re-evaluate just about everything we want from life, our jobs, and the brands we associate with. It has had a profound and enduring impact. By comparison, the issues of 2022 were event driven. Despite the severity, they are cyclical issues we’ve faced before and will face again.

For our business and our clients, 2023 means continuing to understand the long-term impact of COVID-19 on consumer and employee needs, attitudes and behaviours. It means keeping focus on the big strategic questions and not being disproportionately influenced by the short-term issues.

Global mega trends affecting businesses in 2023

Digital Disruption: COVID-19 accelerated general adoption of technology and technological innovation. It changed what consumers want and expect from brands. 2023 means continuing to innovate customer (CX), user (UX) and omni-channel experiences.

Environmental, Social and Governance: consumers are increasingly expecting brands to do their bit for climate change and social diversity and inclusivity. 2023 means identifying the interventions that are most relevant to specific categories and committing to them. Businesses need to be genuine in their values and transparent in their actions.

Moving targets: the global population is simultaneously growing and getting older, and economic and political power is shifting eastwards. 2023 means planning to get a foothold in tomorrow’s profit pools.

Hybrid working: since COVID-19 many people want to continue home working, at least some of the time. 2023 means finding the right model that combines benefits of improved work-life balance, more efficient use of time and higher productivity with the drawbacks of feeling less connected to the organisation’s culture, impaired collaboration and relationships, and disrupted work processes.

Helping employees find their purpose in 2023

Gens Z and X quit their jobs at a significantly higher rate in 2022 than before the pandemic. Related to the desire for change that Google identified, a big challenge for businesses is how to retain and motivate people.

We’ve written about Ikigai several times before. It is an ancient Japanese concept that means your ‘reason for being’ and has enveloped the way Japanese people live. While traditional Japanese philosophy focuses on finding your bliss, western interpretation has used Ikigai as a method of finding your dream career.

Businesses should consider using Ikagai as a framework for brainstorming and developing experiences and opportunities that help people to find their purpose. Read more here.

No doubt more changes and surprises lie in store for 2023. We’ll be up for it and I’m sure you will be too. If you would like to speak to us about any of these challenges, please get in touch.