A new societal urge pits us against the clock. It’s the impulse to be completely available, focused and productive in every area of our lives. And it’s the feeling that if we’re not super busy, we’re not productive and therefore, not valuable.
The backlash is a time poverty that’s overtaking us. We’re trying so hard to make the most of our time that we end up not having enough of it.
We see the signs every day. Sleeping with our phones next to our beds and checking email as soon as we open our eyes. Making scrambled eggs for dinner because we skipped grocery shopping. Canceling the doctor’s appointment an hour before — for the third time — to make a pitch meeting.
Not surprisingly, we’re starting to covet the time we lack and need most.
For decades, we’ve chased the money measures that said, “You’ve made it — a nice car, watch, home, or vacation.” Now we’re coming to value experiences more than possessions, so we increasingly prize the freedom to do the things we love.
We can see it in the everyday ways we now prioritize time over money. Specifically, we’ve quadrupled down on convenience. Convenience used to mean hiring a housekeeper and letting the dry cleaner iron our shirts. Now it’s a service that delivers a breakfast smoothie and coffee to our desk. And it’s getting the pre-cut and measured ingredients for tonight’s gourmet dinner delivered to our door, so we can get our workout in and still eat fresh.
As we escalate convenience, we become more willing to pay a premium for micro savings — a few minutes here and there. Time is increasingly more valuable than the cost of convenience as we effectively try to buy back time.
Because of this, time informs what we buy and use more than ever, yet most marketers fail to appreciate it because it’s not part of the marketing lexicon. It’s not one of the original 4Ps (Product, Place, Price, Promotion).
We need a new language around time. One that’s implicit, not explicit. One that shows, not tells. Because a marketer can only tell us their product or service saves time only so many times before it becomes cliché.
In other words, time is more a brand experience than brand message. Brands need to show how they can make something easy. For example, self-storage companies can take our things to storage and bring them back, on demand. With Alexa, we can order our new supply of vitamins while doing the dishes at the same time. There’s a time corollary for just about every consumer product or service and some brands are even building their entire business models around this type of convenience.
To find the time advantage of a brand, marketers must ask a new set of questions. Do you create time wealth, by giving people back enough time to make a premium “worth it?” Are you making the decision-making process easier, maybe even removing it? And are you easy to adopt and use?
Good marketers transcend commodity by giving people what they crave but can’t get. That used to be things that money can buy; now it’s the freedom that time allows.