Designing Brand Experiences in the Convenience Economy

Written by Kamden Kuhn, VP, Director of Strategy

It’s hard for me to find the time to watch live news. So yesterday, I reached for my phone and spouted “Alexa, tell me the Today Show headlines.” Oops. That’s supposed to be Siri when talking to my phone and Alexa when barking demands to my kitchen counter. Remember when you didn’t get your robot servants all mixed up?

I do. My first cell phone couldn’t even send a text message. Then came BlackBerry. Suddenly, we didn’t have to be at our computer to read or send an email. With a roll of that little wheel on the side of this new breakthrough mini computer, our messages were now wherever we were.

Then came the iPod. Our music was now on demand, too. And, like the BlackBerry scroll wheel, the revolution just kept on rolling.

Humanity got a small taste of what real convenience could feel like. Not the kind where you call your local pizza place, and wait for them to deliver a warm pie an hour later – but the kind that put us, the consumers, totally in charge. And with that first bite, we got hungry for more, more, more.

The technological revolution we’re witnessing is fueling a cultural disruption that extends far beyond our screen time addiction.

It’s a new economy of on-demand convenience. And it has dropped luxury into our laps: Uber gives us personal drivers. Instcart gives us personal shoppers. We are now the boss of eating, shopping, paying, listening, watching, cooking, ordering – you name it – completely on our own terms.

In the past, we went to the market. Today, the market comes to us. And we aren’t just looking for convenience, we’re expecting it more and more in our everyday lives. Consumers demand brands cater to their desires and quickly address their needs at any given moment. When I need something, I’d much rather have it delivered than spend time driving, waiting in line, seeing if they even have what I want, and so on. Call today’s consumers impatient and demanding if you must, but we’ve been conditioned by the disruptor brands who know us best (think Uber, Netflix, Amazon).

The convenience economy means consumers are willing to pay to make life easier. They’re willing to pay to be serviced, even if it means spending more than if they did it themselves. Lyft might add a huge surcharge during peak hours, but for a clean car, smiling driver, and some accompanying Spotify tunes, we’ll happily pay it.

Yes, convenience is about access and control. But more importantly, it reveals what our current culture believes to be our most precious commodity: time.

And that’s the true ROI on convenience. More convenience means more satisfaction because we have more time for pleasure. More time for leisure, clarity of mind, and the things we love.

Google reports that the number of searches including the words ‘now,’ ‘today,’ or ‘tonight,’ recently increased by 153%.1 Plus, searches related to “same day shipping” have grown 120% in the past few years.2 Business researchers call it the on-demand economy and have noted that its future could include drones or robots handling deliveries and “consumers receiving goods even before they realize they need them, based on their buying history.”3

Technology will continue to fuel the way of the future:

“Eliminating mundane shopping actions with programmatic functions, automated lists and subscriptions that utilize artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality as well as other technologies, are the way forward. Technologies clearly have a vital and growing role in enhancing more convenient shopping experiences. They can help provide in-store, store-on-the-go and store-at-home experiences tailored to unique shopper preferences, delivered directly to their door or ready for collection.” – Nielsen Insights, 2018

The truth behind this cultural trajectory has us, the marketers, asking hard questions on behalf of our clients.

What does the convenience economy mean for the sports fan? Or the fast food concept? What about for the craft spirits connoisseur?

For one insurance client, we recently proposed a way to adapt their antiquated annual service fee into a monthly subscription model. For a restaurant client, we focused on online ordering, and we integrated pop-up deals into our social media plan. For a client in the financial services industry, we recommended mobile services that help consumers complete their financial to-dos on their own turf.

We’ll continue to ask how the brands we champion can endear their customers by making their lives easier and more enjoyable. If we become the brand responsible for giving customers more time for leisure, we can begin to turn customers into evangelists.  

Figuring out the convenience equation is the formula for winning the consumer’s heart. Convenient is the new way we do life. To be the brand that ignores it is to be the brand that loses.

1 Warc Insights, Spring 2018
2 ForbesImpatience Is A Virtue: How The On-Demand Economy Is Making Mobile Consumers Impatient, November 2017
3 Sage Business Researcher, The On-Demand Economy, January 2018