As 2016 progresses, saving time continues to be about new attempts to buy time beyond convenience, with consumers showing greater willingness to outsource aspects of their lives.
Time saving solutions for busy urbanites take in numerous subscription services delivering curated products to consumer homes, new apps to help consumers bypass queues, real time customer service and “trip experiences” to better fill journey time.
More time saving solutions for busy urbanites
As 2016 unfolds, brands offering products, services and convenient delivery innovations are catching the eye of busy consumers. Subscription box services are an important indicator. A rapidly developing segment of the internet marketplace, they offer consumers monthly deliveries of everything from skincare products to pet treats and assortments of toys and games. The Dollar Shave Club, for instance, delivers razors and grooming products to homes by post at affordable rates with a motto of “Shave Time. Shave Money”. That the brand was bought by Unilever for US$1 billion this summer proves the significance of this trend.
Earlier on in 2016, ride hailing service Uber embarked on a campaign to improve “trip experiences” through innovative information and entertainment delivery in a bid to encourage repeat business and boost customer affinity with the brand. It had already collaborated with Spotify to enable users to select the songs played during their ride. The company is also working with retailers on an UberRUSH local goods delivery service in selected cities.
Clothing designers are keenly aware of the hurry consumers are in. Menswear designer Jonathan Anderson showcased a collection earlier this year that commentators observed was all about speed. As he put it, “Grindr speed”, referring to the social networking app on which he streamed his show and one notorious for accelerating the journey from introduction to intimacy among many users.
‘Disruptive’ products from startups welcome!
Consumers are keen to use ‘disruptive’ technologies created by startups if they are convenient and save them time. New research from IT company Rackspace found that UK consumers are using apps and online services to save themselves an average of 2.2 hours monthly, with 46% of respondents saying that they’d saved time. Asked about their priorities when choosing which apps or online tools to use, 54% opted for time savings, way ahead of saving money (25%). Darren Norfolk, UK Managing Director of Rackspace, cautions that traditional brands failing to build in some of the same convenience and time saving factors that startups are creating, risk going out of business.
Cinemas, for instance, are using apps to help visitors bypass queues for food and beverages to eliminate bottlenecks at points of sale they call the “popcorn pinch point” – for instance mobile food ordering through the Atom Tickets app in the US.
Athleisure is everywhere
The trend seeing consumers going about their lives in active wear, even if not gym-bound is unstoppable, and mirrored in retail floor space as well as home wardrobes as consumers signify the importance of fitness and wellness in their lives. Athleisure dressing is very much about saving time. As US designer Tory Birch explains: “It’s to do with how women are dressing today, and the question of how you look put together and casual at the same time, with an emphasis on function”.
In April 2016, Beyoncé launched her own active wear brand, Ivy Park, in partnership with Topshop. For her, wearing athleisure clothing means pushing the boundaries of athletic wear to express that women care about their bodies, and that they take time to focus on their mental health and the spiritual with a sense of purpose.
Outdoor Voices is a US athleisure brand that grasps that looking workout-ready isn’t just about gym performance but about enjoying casual clothing also designed for general use. “We believe that fitness doesn’t have to be defined by performance” its website explains “and we celebrate approaching activity with moderation, humor and delight”.
Athleisure is even walking down the aisle. In August 2016, the New York Times reported on the growing numbers of brides and bridegrooms marrying in trainers in “Sneakers for That Sprint Down the Aisle”. Many pairs are heavily embellished and customised with names and dates to mark the occasion. The bridal sneaker is not so much a fashion statement as a lifestyle statement, with millennials prioritising comfort.
More brands selling quality time to consumers
The consumer quest for more quality time and digital-free moments takes in a wish for better sleep as health professionals encourage them not to view slumber as a lifestyle choice but respect it as they do diet and exercise.
One of the most successful Kickstarter projects ever, sleep machine Sense, is controlled via app, and has sustained its consumer appeal with the addition of new noise blocking sounds. Sense monitors sleep and ambient room quality throughout the night via a tennis ball-sized orb and a “sleep pill” which clips onto a pillow to deliver a personalised sleep report to users in the morning with hints on securing better sleep in future. The product uses a colour coded system to alert users if temperature or light needs adjusting and its smart alarm promises to awaken users at the lightest part of their natural sleep cycle to ensure they wake up refreshed.
The DayUse.com website, selling hotel rooms by the hour at significantly less than regular rates, reports surging bookings in London, Paris and New York, and insists these are fuelled by more than secret liaisons. The website is active in 100 cities in 14 countries. According to founder David Lebee most users are workers seeking rest.
To meet consumer customer service expectations and ensure that precious leisure moments, often when consumers are on-the-move, remain stress free, more brands are harnessing technology to respond to consumer concerns in real time outside regular hours. Once at their destinations, brands are working to offer consumers what is frequently most missing in their lives: quality time with fewer digital interruptions and enhanced sleep.