Top Business Trends: The Ultimate Guide in 2023

What are the top business trends in 2023?

Whether it is the influx of artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT, the growth of microbusinesses, the popularity of the gig economy, or the introduction of the metaverse, keeping an eye on growing trends will help you be primed for a successful year ahead.

Here, we have made it easier than ever to take a close look at the trends you can expect to dominate this year.

  • AI market revenue is estimated to grow by over 37% year over year
  • Online shopping is more popular than ever, accounting for 57% of global consumer spending
  • Immersive customer experiences are on the rise with 64 million Americans using VR and 101.6 million using AR
  • Remote work isn’t going anywhere as 86% of workers say they prefer remote work
  • More businesses are formed than before with 30% more businesses formed in recent years 

Artificial intelligence is expected to grow by over 37% YoY

Artificial intelligence, the simulation of human intelligence by machines, was thought to be years away – but that’s not true. We are surrounded by AI every day, from Alexa to customer service chatbots on our favorite retailers’ websites.

Today, nearly half (48%) of businesses use machine learning, data analysis, and AI tools. Doing so boosts company efficiency and improves the consistency of service while informing decision-making and spotlighting business opportunities.

And writing tools such as ChatGPT and Jasper AI are quickly becoming mainstream. ChatGPT alone has surpassed one million users as of January 2023 and Jasper AI is racing quickly toward a staggering 70,000.

ChatGPT is renowned for its ability to create human-like text, from short stories to solving basic math problems. In fact, it just passed the bar exam after several writing essays on topics on everything from constitutional law to taxation.

Jasper AI, on the other hand, is meant to help creative teams generate content five times faster than a human copywriter can – and for far less money. 

There’s no limit to what AI can do. Because of that, it’s only going to keep growing.

In fact, the global artificial intelligence market is growing at a CAGR of over 37%. This means by the end of the decade, the global AI market will reach an estimated $1,811.8 billion. 

Online shopping makes up 57% of global consumer spending 

Online shopping began in 1994 and has evolved to become the primary method of shopping for millions around the world. Today, it’s more popular than ever – and 73% of consumers say it’ll be even more important in the coming years.

The numbers back this claim up. In 2021, global e-commerce sales totaled $5.2 trillion. That’s expected to grow by as much as 56% over the next four years to reach $8.1 trillion by 2026.

More than three in four (76%) US adults shop online, and that number is only going to increase. Three in five shoppers say they plan to increase their online shopping in the future.

So, what are people buying? 41% prefer to buy toys, games, and books online.

Image of size of online shopping market

Immersive customer experiences (VR and AR) are on the rise 

Immersive customer experiences are defined as brand experiences that are “multisensory” and manage the customer journey across all channels, from email and mobile to in-store.

When done well, they help brands stand out, increase customer loyalty, and drive engagement and conversion rates. 

Immersive customer experiences are also becoming synonymous with virtual and augmented reality experiences. In today’s digital world, that makes sense: in 2022, 64 million Americans used VR and 101.6 million used AR. Why not expand that to retail experiences?

Businesses can use VR and AR to support their customers with better customer service and informed decision-making, leading to less buyer’s remorse. 

Remote work is here to stay with 86% of workers wanting to work remotely

Once a luxury, remote work became the norm during the Covid-19 pandemic – and even three years later, it’s not going anywhere. 

Benefits of remote work include more flexibility, higher productivity rates, better mental health, and higher job satisfaction. Nearly three in four say they feel happier when working remotely – no wonder employees expect it as an option!

Studies have found that 86% of workers prefer a fully remote or remote-first structure, and 97% would prefer to work remotely until they retire. 

Businesses are changing to meet that expectation, with 89% of companies having already introduced or considering a remote working policy. Today, 25% of professional, high-paying jobs are remote, up from just 4% before the pandemic. 

Most employees would go to drastic lengths to get to work remotely: 50% say they’d take a pay cut for the benefit. 

Image of remote work statistics

Sustainability is more important than ever

Sustainability is no longer a throwaway business trend.

With things like global warming taking center stage, consumers are hyper-aware of the sustainability of their favorite brands. In fact, 87% say they want brands to act to encourage future sustainability – but only 60% of companies have a sustainability plan!

If you don’t have one, you’re missing out. Research shows that there’s a growing market for sustainable businesses. Nearly 3 in 4 say they’re willing to change their habits to make a difference to the environment; in particular, millennials are more willing to pay for products that will help them do that. 

Additionally, sales of sustainable products have grown by 20% over the last decade.

But in 2023, greenwashing – providing the public with false information to mislead them about their environmental commitments – isn’t accepted. Businesses must actually take action. 

There are two easy ways to avoid greenwashing: tell the truth (brand transparency is important to 90% of consumers) and provide evidence. 

Social media ads are changing

While Facebook is still the most popular social media platform, TikTok and BeReal are among the fast-growing platforms in the US. In 2023, TikTok is predicted to reach 834M worldwide downloads. BeReal has also seen high download rates, with 73 million worldwide.

That’s why ads are changing, to fit these new platforms. Each video needs to feel as though it’s made for the platform – the key to success is authenticity. Instead of highly produced content, aim for a more realistic look that feels a bit imperfect but relatable. 

More microbusinesses will emerge

A record number of Americans have started online microbusinesses in recent years, with 31% founded in 2020 or later. 34% of Americans have a side gig and new business formation is at an all-time high. In 2021, 30% more businesses were formed compared to the 2020 and the graph has trended upward for the past few years. 

Business formation graph from Statista
Source: Statista

What’s a microbusiness, exactly? A type of small business or side hustle with 10 employees or less that meets specific annual revenue criteria and has small startup needs. 

But in 2023, entrepreneurs are taking advantage of a mature e-commerce marketplace with easy website creation, marketing, and sales. Ecommerce businesses and social media influencers are microbusinesses but today there are endless opportunities thanks to the internet, including coaching, consulting, and online course businesses.

And they’ll only keep growing: of the microbusinesses that launched in or after 2020, 85% have plans to expand. Just one in three want to stay small.

90% of small business owners are worried about the impact of inflation

Because of rising interest rates and the war in Ukraine, the global economy continues to weaken.

Unsurprisingly, the economic downturn and threat of inflation is becoming a big concern for small business owners. Research has found that 90% of small businesses are concerned about the impact of inflation, with 54% saying they’re very concerned. 

Graph of small business challenges
Source: US Chamber of Commerce

In fact, 50% say inflation is the biggest challenge they’re facing – and 71% believe the worst is yet to come. To get by, many have had to raise prices (70%), take out a loan (40%), and even reduce the quality of their offerings (31%). 

But it’s not all bad. Some of the most successful companies have been launched during a recession, including Airbnb, Uber, and WhatsApp!

The talent shortage will persist in 2023 and beyond

Sometimes, people worry about AI and robots coming for our jobs. But that’s the wrong thing to focus on. Instead, focus on the fact that there simply aren’t enough people to take the jobs!

Three in four companies around the world are reporting talent shortages – the highest in sixteen years. 

Why is this happening? Because of demographics. In the US, for example, baby boomers will move out of the workforce by 2023, but younger generations (Gen Z, Gen Alpha) won’t have had time to complete the training necessary for the high-skilled jobs they’ve left behind. Meanwhile, in Japan and across much of the EU, low birth rates have increased the talent gap.

Experts predict that this type of shortage will become permanent, into the late 2030s and beyond. This is dangerous for many businesses – if the problem isn’t solved by 2030, it could result in over $8 trillion USD in unrealized annual revenues. 

To avoid a talent shortage in your own business, consider hiring in-house, adjusting your hiring criteria, and reducing the time to hire.

3 in 4 social media users say they prefer short-form content versus long-form content

In 2023, we’ll be focusing on quantity over quality.

That’s not to say that quality will go down, because it shouldn’t! It just means that because we’ll be focusing more on short-form content than long-form content, we can make more of it.

Today, consumers prefer short-term videos that vary in length from 31 to 60 seconds. In fact, nearly 3 in 4 say they would rather watch a short-form video to learn about a product (73%).

Short-form content consists of smaller, more easily digestible pieces of content. TikTok videos, BeReal posts, and tweets are great examples of this. Anything that you can watch, read, or listen to and grasp its full meaning in just a few seconds is short-form content.

It’s unsurprising that consumers are leaning more toward short-form content. Not only do we have a faster media cycle, but we have more social media platforms than ever before as well as a shorter attention span. 

Because of this, you can expect to see a surge in short-form video in 2023, as marketers plan to invest more into it than any other formats. More than 1 in 5 will even use it for the first time this year. 

When creating your short-form content, remember to be as detailed as possible, provide unique information, and offer resources for further learning.

Supply chain disruptions are here to stay in 2023

Severe supply chain disruptions began to take shape during the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite professionals expecting them to ease, it’s quickly become clear that supply chain disruptions are here to stay in 2023 – and well beyond. 

The current drivers are geopolitical conflicts (such as the war in Ukraine), inflation pressures, the threat of economic downturn, and climate change. 

But it’s not all bad. Luckily, there are some positive signs.

The Global Supply Chain Pressure Index, which the New York Federal Reserve uses to measure and identify disruptions, is currently at 1.0. That’s down from 4.0, which was a pandemic high in 2021.

51% of Gen Z say they feel unprepared to enter the workforce

When you walk into the office this year, you’ll likely rub elbows with at least one Gen Z co-worker. That’s right: the oldest members of Gen Z (who were born between 1997 and 2012) are beginning to enter the workforce.

For Gen Z employees, the most important things in a job are compensation (70%), the ability to advance their career (67%), and a good benefits package (61%). 

Gen Z also places a high level of importance on flexibility, diversity, and community within the workplace are all important as well.

That said, the social isolation experienced by Gen Z during the Covid-19 pandemic has made it hard for them to pursue their professional goals.

Because they were isolated during their most formative years, over half (51%) say that they feel unprepared to enter the workforce because they do not know how to negotiate, network, or speak confidently in front of crowds. Moreover, they lack the ability to work and focus for long hours, something that is crucial for finding success in a professional, 9-5 environment.

Without those social skills, we are likely to see increased rates of burnout and career insecurity in Gen Z employees. In fact, nearly 3 in 5 (58%) are already reporting burnout, and at a faster rate than any other generation. 

Gig workers account for 36% of the US workforce

The gig economy is defined as a labor market of temporary or part-time positions that are filled by independent contractors and freelancers rather than full-time employees. In 2023, this can look like food delivery with Postmates or short-term client work on Upwork. 

Whatever gig you choose to pursue, the market shows no sign of slowing down – in fact, it is expected to hit $455 billion USD globally by the end of 2023. At that rate, it’s expected that more than 4 in 5 Americans (83%) will perform gig work by 2027.

For some, gig work is a side hustle: 34% – one in three – Americans have a side hustle.  Side hustles are most popular among millennials and Gen Z. Half of millennials have a side hustle, but Gen Z outranks them with 70%.

More than 2 in 5 of those with a side hustle (41%) say they do it to make ends meet – and those who spend 12 hours per week on it earn an extra $1,122 per month. Last year, nearly one in three said that inflation drove them to start.

Interestingly enough, side hustles often bring more satisfaction to the worker. While only 50% love their primary job, more than 3 in 4 (76%) say that they love their side hustle.

70% of new applications will use low- or no-code tools by 2025

Speaking of the talent shortage, another worrying business trend we’re experiencing is the record shortage of technical talent: 40 million technical jobs are currently unfulfilled because of a lack of talent. If the problem is left unsolved, that number is expected to more than double to over 85 million by 2030.

Because of the talent shortage, many business owners and employees – most of whom have little to no technical expertise – are having to turn to low-code and no-code tools that they can easily integrate into their businesses. 

Low-code software allows users to use visual interfaces and drag-and-drop capabilities to develop software. Likewise, no-code employs a graphical user interface. Both types of technology are particularly important for those looking to break into the app industry with little to no prior experience but want to create something that can be tailored to their needs, implemented quickly, and cost less than systems developed in-house.

This type of technology has been designed to fill the IT talent gap by teaching anyone to become a developer. It is expected that by 2025, as many as 70% of new applications will use low- or no-code technologies. That is a steep increase from 2020, when that number was less than 25%.

Unsurprisingly, the market for these technologies is expected to reach a total of $26.9 billion USD in 2023, up nearly 20% from 2022. Today, 4 in 5 businesses in the US use low-code software – much more than just the 23% of global businesses that use it.

The Metaverse is growing by over 13% every year

You’ve heard the word Metaverse, but what is it? The metaverse is a three-dimensional version of the internet where users can live their digital lives using virtual reality headsets. And yes, you should find ways to use it in your marketing plan this year.

While it still has yet to really make it into the mainstream, the Metaverse currently has 400 million users and nearly 3 in 4 US adults (74%) have joined or considered joining.

Just two years ago, Bloomberg reported that the Metaverse was worth a whopping $478.7B based on a compound annual growth rate of 13.1% and will be worth $800 billion USD by 2024. Another study shows that the global metaverse market is set to register a revenue CAGR, or compound annual growth rate, of almost 50% by 2028. Now, while Web 3.0 is still growing, the Web 2.0 Metaverse was reportedly worth $14.8 trillion in 2021.

Already, nearly 4 in 5 (79%) of active users have made a purchase in the Metaverse. By 2026, it’s estimated that nearly one in 3 companies (30%) will offer their services and products there. 

Gartner reports that 25% of people will spend an hour per day in the Metaverse by 2026 for work, shopping, education, entertainment, and social. What’s more, 30% of organisations in the world will have products and services ready for metaverse.

Over 3 in 5 (66%) business leaders say that their companies are already “actively engaged” in the metaverse, so it is a space you will want to keep an eye on – especially if you’re looking to interact with Gen Z and millennials. While Gen Z currently makes up 60% of Metaverse users, millennials are the ones who show the greatest awareness of it. Half say they are excited about its potential. 

Businesses that choose to expand into the Metaverse get a chance to create a world that represents their brand. That’s more than any marketing ploy could ever do on its own. Moreover, doing so will improve the shopping experience while providing more in-depth data and insights.

Graph of met averse use cases

Currently, the largest virtual Metaverse worlds are Roblox (230 million), Minecraft (165 million), Fortnite (85 million), Zepeto (2 million), Avakin Life (10 million), IMVU (7 million), and Rec Room (7 million).

Virtual worldUsers
Roblox230M
Minecraft165M
Fortnite 85M
Zepeto2M
Avakin Life10M
IMVU7M
Rec Room7M

And according to a survey of 5,521 metaverse gamers, the largest group of users of the top 3 games (Minecraft, Fortnite, and Roblox) are under the age of 20. 

Conclusion

In the face of economic downturn, talent shortages, and supply chain disruptions, 2023 might feel bleak – but it’s also poised to be a year full of great opportunities and momentous growth for the business owners who can adapt and evolve accordingly.

The business trends we’ve discussed here can open up a whole new world for business owners. 

Whether you want to increase your sustainability, jump into the Metaverse, plan more immersive customer experiences, or create a remote-first environment, you can do so successfully by keeping these things in mind.

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

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