Friday, July 21, 2006

The Seven Day Paradigm

How do consumers organize nowadays their lives? If you read most recent publications, it seems that consumers become totally unpredictable and don’t seem to have a structure to their lives. My observation of consumer behavior and insights from recent research work points me to a very different conclusion. It seems that more and more consumers organize their life around a seven day time block and only rarely deviate from it, independent of their age, income or geographic location.

This seven day organizational principle is definitely different from segment to segment but people love having time structure to their lives. This even applies to the 22 year college student who goes out until 4am on a Friday night. His or her behavior is still a consistent pattern until he or she moves to another life stage. I call this phenomenon the “ Seven day paradigm”. Most marketers neglect to understand it.

Interestingly enough, while TV networks have a tougher and tougher time to own a particular week day or time slot for a significant large cluster of individuals, it becomes more and more critical for any retailer to own a “slot” within this seven day paradigm of their target consumers. Most retailers still try to push individual products instead of solutions that can generate an “ownable” time slot within a weekly consumer structure.

While TV networks will slowly give up the goal of owning Thursday evening, retailers need to focus on

  • Understanding their consumer’s seven day paradigm and where they best fit in. This can be done by either utilizing a proprietary consumer study around seven day patterns or by analyzing the available data set from the US Time Use Survey
  • Analyzing competitive forces that currently own this particular time slot. Retailers have to understand that they not only compete with other retailers but with providers and activities that currently own the targeted or desired spot within the seven day paradigm
  • Developing an unique value proposition that persuades the target customer to strongly establish time with the particular as a “habitual” element within the time paradigm. It’s about transforming one off activities into regular habits.

Only retailers who incorporate a marketing strategy that understands and target a persistent slot within the consumer’s seven day paradigm will be able to grow their business. Everyone else might have one-off product centric or non relationship based price driven success but it will be very difficult to build a long-term sustainable advantage.

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