2013 Opinion Issue

Generation Now: Embracing the Power of Living in the Moment

Marketers Must Adjust to Consumer Demand For Instant Results

By Published on .

One of the problems facing marketers is that everything feels "over" before it's even begun. We all know that culture is accelerating -- there are now eight fashion seasons a year instead of two; email has given way to Twitter and now Snapchat; #YOLO (you only live once) is the mantra for the post-millennial generation. And don't let's get started on FOMO. … Everything is quicker, faster, more "now." Our relationship with time is changing.

With so much going on and so much to keep up with, focusing on the "now" has become an essential strategy for consumers and marketers. Evidence of this is everywhere. Speed dating has evolved into hook-up culture via new apps like Tinder, Twine and Grindr, and pop-up shops and restaurants are the norm. New apps eliminate the wait for a cab, a date or a restaurant table, and there has been a huge rise in demand for same-day delivery services such as Instacart.

Everything from last-minute holiday bookings to instant streaming of TV shows and movies is evidence of our growing impatience and the demand for instant results in every corner of our lives.

A side effect of all this cultural acceleration is that our brains are becoming hard-wired to crave instant gratification. Unlimited access to information and desire for external validation is altering behavior in ways that have implications for marketers. We want more new. And we want it now.

Moment marketing
2014 will be the year that marketers master the "moment marketing" revolution. Expect to see an increase in topical, time-sensitive and responsive communication as a way of driving engagement, social-media reach and cultural relevancy. The success of the Oreo Superbowl blackout tweet showed how effective this approach can be. More recent examples include British Airways' #lookup London billboard that uses GPS to track the origins and destinations of real planes flying overhead.

The trend is also being helped by "life-optimizing" apps like BorderLeap, which analyzes personal and environmental data and suggests optimal times in the week for different activities, helping people to seize the day. You can use Offtime to manage your tech-free time by blocking connection to the outside world and automatically responding to contacts. Others like ImpulseSave turn long-term activities such as saving into an instant-gratification activity by tracking spending and sending congratulatory messages when users cut costs (such as skipping your morning Starbucks).

Spontaneous apps
Living in Generation Now can also mean putting away your tech to enjoy the moment by being present. "Phubbing" has emerged as a term to describe the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at your phone instead of paying attention.

All of this new behavior presents opportunities and inspiration for intelligent marketing. Earlier this year the Salve Jorge Bar in Sao Paulo created the "Offline Glass," a specially-cut beer glass that only stands upright when balanced on a mobile phone.

We are also seeing demand for living-better-in-the-moment apps such as "Soundhalo," which makes video of live music available immediately after it has been performed onstage. The idea is to free music lovers from the urge to record it as it happens and encourage them to truly engage with the now.

Brands and marketers should think more about how they can embrace these technologies to help people be more spontaneous, provide helpful time-sensitive messages or just simply enjoy the moment that is now.

Zoe Lazarus is partner-global insights at Lowe & Partners.
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