Time-poor consumers are moving to products and services that prioritise convenience, creating a handy business opportunity, writes Will Higham
Two news stories caught my eye recently. Google confirmed 2017 as commercial launch date for the Ara: a modular smartphone whose functions – camera, music player, mini-printer – are all removable and as interchangeable as apps. And a survey found fewer young people eat cereal for breakfast as it means washing up the bowl. Two unrelated stories, one trend: the ‘new convenience’.
Consumers feel overworked. They’re drowning in data. Their Fomo (fear of missing out) is driving them to fill up their diaries. As a result, convenience begins to outweigh many other behaviour drivers – even price. Working for a London newspaper recently, I found what commuters like best about the ‘free sheets’ is not that they’re free but that they remove the need to detour to a newsagent.
It’s prevailing over privacy: one study saw 61 per cent of consumers happy to trade some privacy for more relevant marketing. It’s even chipping away at brand status and – via the ‘access-ship’ trend – consumerism itself. Some 22 per cent of Americans now buy based not on brand but ease of storage. Meanwhile, 73 per cent of adults globally would “rather have a few useful possessions than many”.
It might seem counter to the ‘slow living’ I discussed last month. But the ‘new convenience’ is more about comfort than speed. It’s about reducing obstacles, choosing products and services that fit easily into our lives. As a result, companies will need to come up with a new form of brand aid. Building loyalty – and revenue – by offering ways to make life easier: simplifying choices, removing red tape, providing options, enabling compatibility. Creating clothes that work across occasions, seasons and demographics, say. Technology products pre-personalised – or customisable – to specific requirements. Financial services with simpler forms, policies and prices. Entertainment products consumable across channels and via intuitive interfaces.
As the ‘new convenience’ becomes a priority for consumers, it’ll need to become a priority for companies too.
Will Higham is a popular speaker and founder of strategic consultancy Next Big Thing