A mate of mine, while driving his 13 year old daughter between activities on a Saturday, casually asked her how life was for her. She evidently paused, reflected and said…
At age 13 I thought the world was a dawdle. In fact I was waiting for someone to put a cracker under it. Today we specialise in making haste. Compression of time perhaps does not have the same hysteria around it as swine flu, but the world truly does have a huge dose of hurry sickness. Instantaneity rules. Worse, for some people instant gratification takes too long. A Trendwatching.com 2008 report stated that 70% 0f Americans 16 years or older said they didn’t have enough time in a day to do the things they need to do, and half of US consumers say their lack of time is a bigger problem in their lives than lack of money.
We have a big problem, and brands are big at solving problems. But firstly as brand owners it is critical, as always, to understand your target market. While there is a huge number of time-poor consumers around it is not everyone. The market segments a number of ways, and despite how you may be feeling personally, it is worth noting there is also a huge segment of consumers out there who are time-rich. In fact this group is probably larger than at any other time in history, but it does not always equate to them also being money-rich. Living longer and spending more time in retirement does not always mean you have lots of cash to splash. But yes, the baby boomer bubble represents an interesting marketing opportunity.
But lets stick with how you are probably feeling. Lets go back to the time-poor segment. From a brand perspective we all need to be making conscious decisions about how we will tackle this phenomena, because if you are not tackling it a competitor will. I would love to go down my hobby horse of IVR’s and call centres at this point but I won’t. But I will remind all brand owners who operate call centres that there are no more insincere words uttered these days than after going through a series of machine prompts, you hear the dreaded…’your call is important to us, all our operators are busy at the moment……’. What I really hear is that for all you time-poor suckers, we don’t care, but we do care that we have been able to take some costs out of our customer service model. Enough!
So who is tackling the time-poor issue? There have been a number of new on-line brands that have not only addressed time-poor but have used time to their advantage. A recent article in the Economist noted several new on-line brands that offer customers time efficient designer fashion shopping experiences – but they also use time to create a sense of urgency by having time limited discount sales periods. You want a great discount, jump in now or miss out. Using limited TIME to the advantage of the brand and the customer (when they buy at a discount). The beauty of on-line sales is you cannot see how many items are still available, unless you are told, so a lovely natural creative tension plays out – buy!
The founders, Alexandra and Alexis, of one of these e-tailers, Gilt http://www.gilt.com/ provide their favourite picks each week. In return for their inspiration Gilt has gone from a start up in 2007 to an expected turnover of $400m next year. Another start up brand who has used time to their advantage is RueLaLa www.ruelala.com Starting in 2008 it expects revenues this year of around $130m.
Gilt – Alexandra’s Picks: Scent of a Woman
Gilt – Alexs’ Picks: Cuff Stuff
Another e-tailer plays the role of an aggregator slightly differently. Shop It To Me www.shopittome.com set itself up as a personal on-line shopping service. It works on the premise that people are too busy to keep an eye out for on-line sales that they only want to be informed when their favourite brands are on sale. They allow customers to select their preferred brands (such as Theory, Prada, Armani, Ella Moss, Juicy Couture, Seven Jeans, DKNY, or BCBG) and sizes. They then scour the websites of leading retailers like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Banana Republic, Gap, Zappos and Bluefly and send you a Salemail™ – a daily or weekly email summary of which new items go on sale in your size. You may be time-poor, but today you have no excuse for looking yesterday’s person when it comes to fashion.
While it is comforting that we have some entrepreneurial guys tackling our fashion requirements, I want you to assist with a problem facing one of our clients. They used to have a thriving business teaching Tantric Sex lessons, but you guessed it, Tantric Sex does not work so well with hurry sickness. Has any one out there invented an express version, there could well be a big market opportunity. Regardless of your market place it is time to start thinking about time. Time-poor or time-rich, there is a need to understand your customers’ needs and create an offer that is compelling.