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Navigating uncertainty: using market research to support business growth in 2023

In this article, we identify 4 business imperatives that will drive success in 2023 and illustrate how to effectively use market research to support success in each of these areas. 

This year looks set to be another tough one for businesses, with economic indicators in many larger markets continuing to signal a ‘downturn’ or worse, and widespread layoffs impacting many previously high-growth businesses. While the threat of the big ‘R’ appears to be receding for key markets like the US, it is clear that succeeding in 2023 will require businesses to juggle the needs of growth and profitability with diligence and focus. 

1. Grow Efficiently

In times of economic uncertainty, it is tempting to focus on widespread cost-cutting to ‘share the pain’ but that is exactly when leaders need to recall the adage that ‘you can’t cut your way to growth’.  Ruthless cost cutting is not a sustainable strategy and cutting the wrong things can cause serious long-term business impact. This applies especially to marketing where it is often easy to cut back spending in the face of rising customer acquisition costs. 

The key is to grow efficiently, which means focussing on ways you can create more revenue from your existing customers and/or find new segments and markets that are ripe for the taking.

How market research can help?

Stay fit for purpose – market research can be used to ensure you stay aligned with the changing needs of your current customers. COVID and now the cost of living crisis are changing behavior across many demographic groups and purchase categories – are you keeping track? Revisit the needs of your core customers to ensure you remain fit for purpose.

Reduce R&D risk – while product R&D investment often declines in a downturn it still needs to happen, and the costs of getting it wrong are even higher. Research provides the confidence to know which products are the right ones to bet on, and the data to justify so upstream.

2. Conversion (not content) is king

While content remains key to engaging your customers, how you use it, personalize it and deliver it will be even more critical. Having compelling content that converts inbound prospects effectively will be the difference between acceptable conversion costs and budget cuts.
Here the little things matter. Consider shifting a small proportion of your marketing budgets to testing new conversion tactics or approaches – for many businesses a small improvement in lead conversion can generate a disproportionate increase in revenue.

How market research can help?

Conversion optimization – quick turnaround market research can confirm the value proposition and messaging that resonates with new or current audiences. By gathering robust feedback you can build a strong communications platform that can feed into the customer experience and be optimized through digital A/B testing tools like Hubspot, Upflowy, or Mutiny.

3. React rapidly

A week is a long time for businesses in the current climate. Consider Twitter’s market capitalization fluctuations or the speed with which the impulse grocery delivery market collapsed in Australia. Consumer behavior is changing faster than ever before, because of short-term external pressures like the cost of living and supply chain challenges intersecting with longer-term trends like conscious consumption. That makes it critical for businesses to monitor market dynamics and core customer behavior to identify threats or opportunities. 

How market research can help?

CX obsession – staying focussed on customer needs via a range of CX insights programs is critical. That might require the use of on-demand research surveys into emerging behaviors, social listening to assess shifting market sentiment, or accessing syndicated data to quickly compare your performance against the market. Whatever the source, the key is to ensure you understand who is driving the success of your business and have measures in place to identify change as it happens.

4. Brand is boss

As consumer stress levels continue to rise, brands that resonate strongly with consumers will thrive while others will be forced to compete on price.

It will be increasingly important to focus on physical and mental availability, and articulate your values and purpose to ensure you appeal to the growing cohort of consumers (more than 6 in 10) whose purchases are influenced by ESG/sustainability considerations.

And remember, there is plenty of evidence that the businesses that invest in brand-building for the long term throughout tough economic times are the ones that reap disproportionate benefits later (see nice summary here). The implications are crystal clear; you should be fighting hard to maintain your brand marketing budget during any downturn.

How market research can help?

Prove brand value – by measuring the short-term impacts of your continued brand investments, you’ll be able to prove to the naysayers that you need to stay the course. The requirement? Affordable, regular brand health dips or continuous brand tracking to monitor consumer attitudes and behavior. In addition, if you are a purpose-driven business or one with a strong ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) strategy, make sure you benchmark your performance against competitors and identify whether that presents risk or opportunity for critical boardroom metrics.


To ensure your business navigates successfully through what looks set to be a tumultuous 2023, focus on building a strong brand and a balanced business by thinking about how you can:

Grow efficiently – look for commercially sensible new sources of revenue
Convert interest effectively – evolve the ways you use content to create customers
React rapidly – create a competitive advantage by using data to fuel faster business decisions
Build your brand – invest for the long and the short term

To win in 2023 businesses will need to be increasingly agile and data-driven, with a deep understanding of consumer behavior and confidence in how to use that knowledge to create better experiences. 

Is your business ready for the challenge?

Glow’s unique research platform enables businesses to conduct robust, high-quality market research fast. Glow empowers a range of businesses – from advisory and consultancy firms to media agencies, market research agencies, and consumer brands – to make better decisions through the use of agile consumer insights. Book an intro with one of our experts to see how Glow can help your business grow.