Instant gratification. The demands of the ‘now’ generation

In Marketing Strategy by Clare Grove

Watching the film of Eddie the Eagle’s story recently with my boys, I had to explain how exciting Eddie’s endeavours were to a ski-mad girl in the winter of 1988.  I explained how we would have to wait to watch the nightly news (on one of only four channels…)  to see how he’d got on and nag my parents to get the newspaper just so we could snip the stories and pictures for our scrapbooks.

‘Why didn’t you just Google it?’ 🤦‍♀️

At DRIVE HQ this week, Demelza (live-music-mad digital guru) asked that if we were only allowed to see one live music act in our lifetime, who would it be? I like to think that I have few regrets, but one is that I never saw George Michael, with whom I fell hopelessly (and pointlessly…) in love, perform live.  I would save every penny for Wham’s singles or cassettes, rush to buy Smash Hits with George and Andrew on the cover, loiter by the stereo to hear the charts and hope that my dad was standing by to record the top ten from the radio on a Sunday night so I could listen to ‘Freedom’ over and over again on my Sony Walkman.

As I write this, I admit that it makes me feel horribly old; but there was something enlightening about explaining to my children, and to those millennials on the team, how, back then, patience really was a virtue, how, pre-Spotify or Apple music, the only way to hear a latest release or listen again and again, was to buy the single… and press rewind! No downloads! The endless wait for a film to come onto video (video…? a whole other conversation)! No Instagram! No texting our friends, just hours of patiently waiting for a turn on the (expensive) home ‘phone (which had a cord so calls – which were also time-limited - were usually taken on the stairs with the rest of the family climbing over you).

It is a known fact the our attention spans are waning; we expect immediate responses to texts, to emails; we want our shopping delivered overnight, our films downloaded instantly, our posts liked, loved, shared in seconds – it’s been five minutes, no one has liked it… what have I done wrong?

Now let’s put this into a marketing context.

A robust marketing plan, stating long-term goals and objectives makes good sense, doesn’t it? A good marketing plan will tie in with the overall business goals and objectives, consider the infrastructure and link with the business’ wider strategies.   It’s a strong and essential foundation for success. No matter what else has changed in the world, it is still vital to identify your customers, consider where they come from, the channels through which you will reach them and understand the customer journey they will embark upon and the needs and demands they may have.  
But planning for a whole year – even six months - in this ever-changing world is quite a challenge.

Plan away – after all, we marketers love a plan – but let’s not forget to factor in the need to react and adapt, to change any carefully crafted plan in light of the instant gratification factor; what works for one campaign, at one time, may fall flat the next.  The technology through which it is delivered may be defunct/unpopular/superseded (remember QR codes? We loved them, then we hated them… then they were dead… now, it seems, they may be back…?!); perhaps the trend that we planned to hook our campaign upon is over, replaced with another, streaming via a new and exciting channel.

What is clear is that whatever technology we use, whatever message we’re delivering, whatever service or product we’re selling, as marketers, we need to be ready to volte-face at a moment’s notice, to change and adapt – and quickly.

Because patience, it would seem, is no longer the virtue it once was.

RIP George – forever my careless whisper…