“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear
that the most precious resource we all have is time.”
— Steve Jobs
In many ways, technology is turning us into a new species. This is a topic under hot debate by anthropologists, psychologists and media experts. However, you don’t need a master’s degree to realize that our perception of reality and our relationship to the world – have been fundamentally transformed by information technology.
Our notions of space have changed as we have the magical ability to communicate, see and be seen across vast distances – like the other day when I saw a grandmother at Newark Airport Facetime with her granddaughter in Australia, and her niece in Germany. Our notions of choice have exploded to paralyzing proportions through Amazon, eBay, Tinder, and so on.
But perhaps the most important shift has been in our perception of time. What we can now do during a given span of time, and how time feels to us, has forever been altered. Think back to 30 years ago when we still used hand held calculators, there were no laptops or smart phones, there was no Wikipedia or Google, no Amazon or Netflix (in their current incarnations). Think about how much time it took to do simple things, like researching a company or learning about what breed of dog your family should own. You had to physically go to a Blockbuster to rent a movie. And then return it. Can you imagine? How slow. How laborious and primitive.
As a result, we have become exquisitely conscious of how we use time, in micro units. Today, since you can effectively communicate to an audience of millions instantly through avenues such as Twitter and Instagram, a small unit of time, like a second, 5 seconds, a minute, 5 minutes – have an entirely different meaning.
We also know that the more time consumers allocate to a brand, the more they’re likely to buy. But they will only allot that time if you provide one or more of the following:
- High utility – I get done something that’s very necessary to me, and I get it done well
- Belonging – you’ve helped me feel like I’m part of a community or family
- Social equity – you’ve helped me raise my status in a community that matters to me
- Entertainment – You make me laugh or brighten my day or move me in some way
- Meaning – you’ve helped me increase the sense of meaning or purpose I have in my life
If you flip this list upside down, you essentially get an analogue of the Maslow’s pyramid. That’s nothing new. But what’s new is that these needs now must be met by brands in much shorter increments. This means that brands and agencies have to exercise even more creativity, human insights, technological skill and sheer agility than ever before.
Witness the speed with which the Twitter-verse erupted around the show Scandal at key “oh my god” moments during many broadcasts. Or how quickly a Kickstarter campaign can accelerate and raise millions of dollars for a cool new cause or invention.
In the next post, we’ll go from exploring increments of time, to looking at the continuum of time – our perceptions of past, present, future. But for now, we’re out of time.