04 August 2007

Time, the new currency/Coffee and Donuts/May 06(Excerpts from JWT global research)

Time, the new currency
In the marketing communications industry, with its tradition of “30 seconds” or “15 seconds” and “time slots,” it’s vital to understand the difference between time as measured by the clock and time as perceived by consumers. And that difference can be huge!!
Consider the experience of time distortion in an elevator. You get in, the doors take an extended time to close, then there’s a long pause before the car starts moving and it seems to take ages to reach your floor (particularly if you’re not comfortable with your fellow passengers). And yet you’re out a minute after getting in.

On the other hand, many people have had the experience of being on vacation and realizing it’s only the second evening, yet already it feels as if so much has happened that it must be longer than two days. A week into the vacation, you’re just getting into the rhythm, but then the next week flashes by and it’s time to go back to work again.

Time seems to act like a concertina, compressing and stretching.

Retailers certainly have discovered that the time a customer thinks he or she has spent in line is more important than how much time he or she has actually spent there. Hence, the use of music and other distractions to “speed” time.Time is all about perception.

In recent surveys JWT found that in Middle East and North Africa, the concern is not about too many things to do, but too few things to do in too much time. People were more likely to be bored than stressed.

However, in developed countries people were obviously pressed for time. 43% Americans, 39% British, 60% Dutch and 47% Australians rate themselves as Time Poor.

But then again, if people had to choose between being over-stimulated and under-stimulated – stressed or bored – most consumers veer towards overstimulation. It’s a tradeoff people are willing to make to do all things they want to do.

The good news for marketers is that media still looms large in consumers’ time allocation. However, people are beginning to multi-task their media usage. They run several media at the same time and switch attention among them.

A growing issue for marketers will be not the cost of products in cash, but rather the cost (or benefit) in time. The question increasing numbers of consumers are asking themselves is not “Can I afford the money?” but rather “Can I afford the time?”

Very often time is a handy shorthand term for other intangibles that are deeply connected with time in people’s minds – particularly energy, effort, and attention.There are all sorts of ways time factors into a purchase: How much time does it take to find out about the product? How much time does it take to purchase it? How much time does it take to learn how to use the product? How much time does it take to use the product? How does the product affect other demands on time?

Time themes for brands
If time is the issue we believe it is, then brand owners and their marketing agencies should be deepening their understanding of it. The survey probed how brand propositions might relate to time and lack of time by putting five brand-related propositions to respondents and asking them whether they would pay extra for a brand that delivered against these propositions.
More than 90 percent were prepared to pay for at least one of these benefits.
A time saver
A stress reducer
A just-in-time solution
Ahead of the times

The more people feel their time is squeezed, the more opportunity there will be for brands that can make a brief timeout feel like a long vacation. What we need isn’t time management, it’s time-mastery skills that enable people to speed up and slow down their sense of time at will. What if we could make the hour’s drive to work seem quick, the visit to the dentist over before it’s started? And what if dinner for two or a Caribbean cruise seemed to stretch beyond the time actually spent?

What about India?

While we in India are investing more and more in buying homes and filling them, we are also spending more time out of home. More time in our offices, in malls, theaters, and on the road commuting. Share of Wallet on eating out is up and on foods and grocery is down! Share of Wallet on books, music, vacation and entertainment – experiential segments - is up.
Women, in particular are spending more time out of home, and by themselves and on themselves. Payment for household help tops emerging spend segments so we are spending less time on chores and more time elsewhere.
Our children are spending more time in coaching classes. With more professionals travelling across time zones and countries and call center employees working through the night, body clocks are getting scrambled, and the difference between day and night is blurring.

So where is all the extra time coming from and what are we giving up on?
The answer is simple: apparently we are sleeping less!

According to India Today, 46% Indians – the highest in Asia, sleep for less than 6 hours. 64% wake up before 7 am, the highest in the world (with Japan). 29% Indians don’t go to bed till well past midnight. And 45% Indians say work is responsible for changing their sleep schedules.

Clearly, the Indian social and worklife has changed dramatically in the past few years, making sleep and upward mobility incompatible bedfellows. As the toddler in the Horlicks commercial says “I’m very busy” is going to be a fashionable thing to say for a long time to come in India.

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