iStock Trend report: visual trends in marketing in 2023

This year’s Christmas campaigns already show that a new tonality is finding its way into advertising. In the face of multiple crises, wars, and inflation, many companies appeal to a sense of community. After years of personal contact, more empathy is needed again. This is also confirmed by the trend report from the image and video platform iStock.

According to iStock, people are currently worried about climate change, inflation, and rising costs. One consequence of the rising costs is that material desires are obviously taking a back seat – many people are setting new priorities. For example, 63 percent of respondents want a better work-life balance, followed by improving their physical health (59 percent) and more time with loved ones (52 percent). This also has consequences for marketing communication: 79 percent appreciate it when companies recognize people’s challenges and concerns. “Our VisualGPS study found that two out of three people worldwide expect companies to show empathy toward them,” said Rebecca Swift, global head of creative insights at iStock. “Small and medium-sized businesses have an advantage when they are able to convey these values ​​to their audience through the right images and videos, thereby meeting their audience’s expectations.” iStock derives four important trends for visual marketing from the findings of its report: 

1. Be empathetic

In view of future economic uncertainties and the recession, companies should avoid pictures of people in exclusive locations and instead rely on more realistic scenarios. As an example, iStock cites outdoor activities or community activities at home such as game nights. This will reach consumers “who are more aware of their expenses and act more carefully because of their economic challenges”.

2. Put social connections first

The return to the closer social environment should also be considered when selecting images or videos: “Images and videos of fulfilling experiences associated with friends and family will be crucial to addressing your customers,” says the council of the iStock experts. “Remember that instead of focusing on the activity itself, sharing activities like eating or drinking is a great way to socialize and connect with others.”

3. Think about “little luxuries.”

Due to the rising cost of living, many consumers prefer to treat themselves to a little luxury in between, while expensive purchases are currently being postponed, also known as the “lipstick effect”. According to iStock, this creates opportunities “to present items that are not usually presented as luxurious.”

4. Don’t forget about emotional and physical well-being

iStock also recommends a rethink for tourism marketing and a move away from the pure presentation of sights or beautiful landscapes. Instead, travel providers or tourism associations should rely on images that tell stories and transport emotions. iStock experts recommend thinking about themes like “working from anywhere,” “living in the moment,” or even “traveling alone” when designing visual storytelling: “Also, consider how travel promotes emotional well-being and shows Moments of connection with others.”


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