How the current economic situation may be good for our soul

We have probably all been guilty of uttering some derivation of the following sentence “I would love to do it, but I just don’t have the time”.  Modern life is busy, we are time poor, the weekends don’t give us the time we need to do what we want, we never have sufficient annual leave, in short we are poor, hard done to souls.

Watching the magnificant West Wing tv series, I was always astounded at how people worked until very late and then bid each other to have a “good evening”, as if they had found the ability to rewind time.  Naturally this was make believe, and we can’t do that, but However, there is another side effect that is perhaps more meaningful and more impactful for brands and how they interact with their consumers.  When times are good, we want to enjoy ourselves, to have fun and damn the consequences; hell we can afford it.  This leads us to try to cram more and more into our leisure time, and it is at this point that we begin to feel time poor.

However, look into the life of your grandparent in 1952 and you begin to see that this is a false perception.  In 1952 the average working week was 48 hours compared to 37 hours currently.  Your grandfather probably spread that over 6 days as opposed to your 5, and across the year got at most 16 days of holiday (inc bank hols) compared to your minimum of 28.

I have a theory, which only time will test fully, that the current economic woes may actually go some way to address this “problem”.   It’s arguable that consumers have been persauded by the virtue of convenience and time saving for too long, which as budgets shrink is something that they can no longer afford.  As such, we may see a move towards brands offering better value and greater versatility moving forwards.

Today, we know that we have to economise, which have some intersting implications that may be good for the soul.  Tighter budgets require greater planning and a change of priorities.  Whereas once we would have claimed not to have the time to cook a meal from scratch or take the time to plan for a week, now there is a financial incentive for us to do so.  Our  blog entry “Is Canny Shopping the Norm” (Feb 17) shows that consumers do appear to be changing their behaviour and planning more.

As we find that we do have more time than we thought, we will perhaps begin to appreciate and value this more, which could see brands having to adapt in how they communicate with consumers.  Convenience may well have been the theme of the naughties, taking time could be the theme of the teens.  What do you think?

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Sunita Bhabra
01962 842211
Article date - 10/04/2012
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