Luckily for brands, Einstein was right when he said time is relative. And if brands play their cards right they can make an hour seem like a minute, or make a minute work for them as much as an hour. “It's all about how engaging and creative you are,” said Sansom before going on to detail three ways brands can use time to their advantage.
This is all about using technology and time to bring an element of jeopardy to a call to action, and can be an exceedingly useful concept, said Sansom. By making people hurry or feel slightly panicked and creating a sense of excitement, brands can potentially engage people for far longer than just the campaign itself.
One campaign that exemplifies this concept, Sansom said, is Dominos Japan's World's Shortest Limited Time Offer by Hakuhodo. The Facebook campaign promoted a voucher that only existed for 0.01 seconds, and consumers had to click it at precisely that point in time to win it. In total, the offer was available for just 8.7 seconds, but consumers were logging in and waiting anxiously hoping to click at the precise moments. The campaign drove a 150 per cent in Dominos' Facebook fans, which, considering the brand gets 50 per cent of its sales through the platform, is considerable and helped Dominos overtake Pizza Hut to be the most popular pizza brand in Japan.
This concept works well for retailers to to drive in-store sales as well. In a time when showrooming is more a problem than ever for retailers, some brands have succeeded in getting their customers to sprint into their stores. Meat Pack, a shoe store in Guatemala that sells limited-edition shoes by brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Supra, created Hijack, an app that used GPS technology to recognise one of its fans, or 'sneakerheads', entering an official store of one of the brands sold at Meat Pack. The app would trigger a special notice and a discount that started at 99 per cent, which decreased by a percentage for every second that went by. To stop the countdown, consumers had to hurry to a Meat Pack store. The faster they got there the higher the discount. As a result, more than 600 customers were 'hijacked' from competitors. And of course, every time a discount was redeemed the person's FB status automatically informed the world about the promotion.
Marketplace for moments
Often, when you connect with a customer is more important than how long that message lasts. Just as Meat Pack targeted consumers at the precise moment they were looking to buy from someone else, brands can use data to map the customer journey and target them predictively.
“The crucial point here is to offer genuine value, compound interest if you will, or people will very quickly get annoyed. If their personal data is worth X amount, whatever you give in return had better be worth X plus a percentage more,” Sansom said.
One execution for a cafe, although self serving, also aimed at saving lives, which, as Sansom put it, is not too bad. The Drive Awake app sounded an alarm if it detected the driver's eyes closing (using the mobile's front-facing camera). At that point the app offers directions to the nearest Cafe Amazon Branch.
To take things one step further, brands have the data to know what a consumer will need before they do and have the capacity to remind them at the precise moment they need it. Predictive apps, like this one by Nivea Brazil, Sansom said, wake up the consumer if the weather's nice so they can hit the beach rather than sleeping in and missing out on all the fun. The Dutch railways NS Reisplanner Xtra app is capable of letting passengers in stations know how crowded the next train will be and where the empty seats are located.
Retailers will appreciate the RosieApp which predicts when a user is about to run out of essential items. It reminds users and connects them to their nearest retailer for delivery.
“Walmart has all the data it needs to create something like this, so why is a startup leading the way?” asked Sansom. “They'll be doing it soon I think.”
By using data in this way, brands can turn the experience of 'big data' from one of being spied on by big brother to one of being helped out by big sister, he concluded.
Brands can also borrow or extend time from other events by augmenting the experience in ways that entertain, delight or benefit consumers. An app, still in beta, called Tapestry builds up a virtual want or shopping list of things a consumer likes, which can be added simply by scanning barcodes or bumping NFC tags.
“It freezes that moment of want so you can share it with friends or go back to the retailer's site later and buy that item," he said. "If you opt in, you can let them send you coupons or alerts on sales.”
Quoting American author and management speaker Joseph Pine, Sansom voiced that time is the “currency of all experiences”. “The more time your customers spend with you, the more money they will spend now and in the future,” Sansom said.
Perhaps the best example of this put into action, he continued, is the Art Series hotels 'Overstay Checkout' campaign run by Naked.
“It drove revenue where there was none, and because guests were staying longer at the hotel, even though it was for free, the hotel gained revenue from the bar, restaurants and other facilities it offered,” Sansom said.
To conclude, if brands are looking to play with time, they should focus on creating the most expedient solutions for people—to map out the consumer journey's pain points and look at solving them. Or be so engaging that people will seek out your brand to transform experiences, said Sansom. “Justify the time you spend in people's lives.”