A brand "to be watched" is one that, like an egg hatching, you can't look away from because of its potential. It's a force gaining momentum – one that draws attention to itself because of how well it understands the problems of its customers. It's the kind of brand you recommend to a friend because you just can't keep it to yourself. At Joe Smith, we are constantly scoping out exceptional brands across industries to bring ideas and insights to our clients. Here are the market trends that have caught our eye, and the brands that are poised to make the most of them in 2023.
Trend #1 | Being Intentional: Purpose-built technology is on the rise
Some of our favorite brands are technology or platform companies that are drilling down on solving very specific problems for their customers. The specificity of their focus and their thought-out designs spark excitement in consumers who, at last, have been heard. Based on these innovative brands, we wonder if a new era of consumer-led, human-centered technology is upon us – one where consumers have control over their privacy and can dictate the features they want to see.Our Brands to Watch in this category are:
- Yoto Player – Designed to give children a portal to engaging audio content without the distractions of ads and screens, the brand grew from a Kickstarter campaign and is now supported by an engaged base of parents.
- ReMarkable – An elegant digital notebook that mimics paper and integrates with the applications you need, but nothing more.
- Distrokid – With a populist voice, Distrokid advocates for independent music artists with access to the world’s largest streaming platforms and royalty management.
- BeReal – In a world of "doom scrolling” and fake filters, BeReal focuses on authenticity, allowing users two minutes to post an unfiltered photo of what they’re doing at that very moment.
Trend #2 | Making it new: Better narratives, better experiences
Well-loved rituals are beginning to be reimagined by a new cadre of more conscious alternatives. By questioning the status quo – why should your morning beverage be coffee? Why should your cocktail give you a hangover? Why should vegan dishes be seen as less appealing? – these brands have reinvented entire categories because they ditch the assumptions and present new possibilities.Our Brands to Watch in this category are:
- Oatly – Oatly provides oat-based alternatives to dairy products, from coffee creamers to ice cream. Brimming with personality, the brand stands out with its uber-playful visual identity and voice.
- Seedlip – Seedlip seeks to elevate the non-alcoholic spirits category, with a brand expression that is both sophisticated and grounded.
- Slutty Vegan – A culture-shifting vegan chain with memorably flavorful dishes and a flair for the irreverent.
- Uncle Nearest – The family of Nearest Green, the Black man who taught Jack Daniels how to make whiskey, has established a brand all its own celebrating “the best whiskey maker the world never knew.”
Trend #3 | Merging Worlds: When form meets function
Some brands are just so wildly functional, they break their category. Masterfully blending form and function means you can solve customers' functional problems while delivering style, accessibility, and sustainability. Our Brands to Watch in this category are:
- Sheertex – The well-known hosiery company continues to evolve by focusing on innovation that delivers resilience, with products like their “indestructible” tights.
- Kizik – Kizik’s HandsFree® technology means shoes can be put on with no tying, no wiggling, no stomping – a win for tired parents and accessibility advocates alike.
- Rivian – Sustainability isn’t a byproduct of this solar-powered car company – it's their singular focus. Specializing in notoriously gas-guzzling cars, like SUVs and pickup trucks, Rivian creates zero-carbon vehicles that enable people to pursue their passion, on-road and off, while preserving the environment.
There are two eternal truths that each of these brands prove:
- Solve your customer's problems.
- Take them along the journey with you.
It all comes down to drilling down on your specific customers, solving their (sometimes unspoken) challenges, and being transparent along the way so they can be part of the experience. With those two things, who knows – maybe we'll be watching your brand next. Catherine Goodson is a brand strategist and Gregory Carden II is an associate brand strategist at Joe Smith, the brand consultancy of Padilla.