It’s an invigorating time to be alive – long lost friends are no longer lost, a human can learn four years of computer science curriculum in one year. On the other, we are managing so many demands of our time that 77% of us report experiencing physical symptoms caused by stress. Change is the new normal.
Also of contextual significance is the increase in women working outside the home from 33% in 1950 to 61% in 2012. Americans redistributed time to adapt to this shift over time, but new pressures accompanying the connected lifestyle are forcing us to re-examine every waking minute searching for ways to optimize – or hack – the 24-hour day.
These trends are impacting both men and women – but on average, women continue to spend more time than men caring for children and elder parents. Women also tend to absorb the majority of coordination overhead of those around them whether they work inside or outside the home as an occupation. (PS – those same soft skills, multi-threaded thinking, planning, detail are increasingly valued in the knowledge economy) In short: she has no more time for you.
Time is the financial capital of the digital age. And as such, anyone marketing to women (or humans in general) should recognize the value of giving her time back. This applies not only to the design and manufacturing of products you sell or services you offer, but to every inch of the customer experience from first-glance through purchase and in every subsequent interaction beyond. This flies in the face of expecting more “time-on-site” and upends traditional aspirations of “deep customer bonding.” Loyalty is to be had by brands who make it easy to do business with them and who create the least amount of interaction needed to serve our needs – regardless of industry.
The usual suspects have mastered this – Amazon, Zappos, Sephora, Apple, many curation sites like OneKingsLane – but most have not recognized this opportunity to recalibrate their business models for time trading. As the winners emerge, they are discussed and recommended like wildfire – and usually this happens where the marketer can’t observe it – offline & in secure social networks (i.e. my private Facebook groups & friends-only feeds).
So what’s a marketer to do with this new fundamental consideration?
- Prioritize time-shaping variables within segmentation models – employment status, household income, life phase – factors that help answer the question “how much time does she have to spend using the product/service.”
- Benchmark customer experience – and do it relative to best-in-class examples NOT from only within your category. Market expectations with regard to customer experience are not siloed by industry in the eyes of the consumer so study what the best practices are with broad perspective. Whether you conduct ethnographic research or do your own field research putting yourself in the shoes of the customer, identify time sucks and hack them.
- Analyze negative sentiment expressed about your brand – those who are speaking ill of your brand publicly are doing you a favor, most trusted and influential conversations happen where you can’t listen in. Build an agenda and act.
- Integrate efforts – A surefire way to reduce marketing ROI is to allow internal silos to compromise customer experience. Even if it’s “outside your area” – use data to drive action and accountability. For example, if you own digital/social and discover a trend in negative feedback regarding people waiting too long to check out in their local retail store, your digital promotions are at risk.
- Ditch “time on site” as a KPI – The first time I heard someone bash this metric, it pleased me. Why is more time good? What if I’m lost and can’t find what I’m looking for? What if I’m browsing across multiple tabs? I’m picking on this one metric symbolically – – what I literally mean is invert the thinking that time spent with the brand is good or at all desirable relative to all the other ways a human could spend their time.
A final contemplation is for the employer. These new time use considerations along with mobile technology are changing the expectations and cultural DNA of our workforce. All employees, and especially women will value organizations that help them maximize their time, not misuse it. New operational models for leveraging women effectively in the era of knowledge workers will be a competitive advantage. So this concept belongs on the corporate agenda at large, not just as a part of a contemporary marketing strategy.