Making dollar out of downtime

As schedules become more packed, real leisure time has become sparse and more precious than ever. Ironically, the rise of mobile means consumers may be more efficient in spending money, but the distractions are overwhelming, making downtime more frantic than it should be. How can brands help? By providing a product or service that enriches leisure time rather than diluting it.

How consumers spend their free time and their cash has changed since millennials came into the picture. As the Observer puts it: “It’s not cool to show off your logo or handbag. Now, the way you brag is flaunting your healthy lifestyle, so it’s a selfie at SoulCycle, a 10 dollar green juice or geotagging a hike.” We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: it’s all about experiences.

Because of this, the fitness industry is booming; nowadays working out is considered a treat rather than a chore. The new influx of boutique gyms in big cities are catering to the needs of millennials who prefer a ‘pay-as-you-go’ system rather than committing to a membership. Consumers’ relationship with fitness is changing; they want bespoke classes, the best instructors in the business and the snazziest equipment out there. Each workout session has to be good enough for an Instagram post. According to Courier: “Eating healthy food, taking part in group fitness activity and choosing where to live based on whether young people can walk or cycle to work is now mainstream and seen as a marked shift from previous generations.” Health is a huge priority for millennials and if their precious leisure time is spent working out, it better be worth it.

What do consumers look to when they have a free minute? In the queue, before bed, during the ads – straight to their smartphones. As Campaign put it: “One of today’s great paradoxes is that mobile technology makes life more efficient and productive, yet it generates enough distraction so it seems there is less free time.” Brands need to capitalise on this by making sure their website is slick and mobile ready. Even the tourism industry has turned ‘mobile first’ as more consumers are not only shopping from their smartphone, but they’re booking holidays too. (Yes, this probably means late at night in bed). Every step of the customer journey in booking travel must guarantee connectivity to allow a good dollop of social bragging. According to Campaign: “Facebook reports the second most shared activity as being a ’travelled to’ event.”

As for hospitality, leisure time doesn’t necessarily mean eating out; now supermarket brands have made it acceptable to eat in. M&S does this well with their hugely popular £10 dine-in deal. The way people consume entertainment has changed too; the rise of Netflix means on-demand TV is the chosen format, rather than passively flicking through channels and therefore wasting valuable time.

What’s the best way to make dollar from downtime? Most importantly, make sure your content fits the consumers’ needs and desires. According to Campaign: “Millennials use cell phones for moments of relief, so brands should consider making their messaging short and snackable.” Whilst they’re scoring their social scrolling hit, if you can shave minutes off, they’ll love you for it. It’s also about timing; see how food brands capitalise on pre-lunch hunger pangs with mouthwatering recipes, whilst fitness brands bombard consumers with inspiring workout videos first thing.

In a world where we’re scrambling for more seconds, leisure time is an opportunity for brands to swoop in to act as help, not a hindrance. People are forever looking for ways to live, shop and work more efficiently, and now is a great time for brands to monopolise on the addiction to mobile whilst maintaining integrity through relevant content and a worthwhile product.

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