January 19, 2016 Jen Maltby

The precious gift of time

Image Credit: Creativity Online

Image Credit: Creativity Online

At the end of every year I try to take some extra days off of work to just spend time with my family. As a working mom with a working husband and two too-fast growing young kids, there is no gift better to me than having time to spend with them. And I know I am not alone here, whether you have kids, or pets or plants or Star Wars collectibles at home, having a minute to enjoy the things you love is a precious commodity.

It’s not new news that in our my-cellphone-was-surgically-implanted-to-my-hand world that finding time is a bit of a luxury. In fact, I have been to several luxury and trend conferences over the last ten years and at each of them at least one person talked about time as the “new luxury”.

So, have brands been listening?

I think many are, for sure, by offering things such as:

  • Providing online access to their inventory so you don’t have to go to the store: The Paper Store
  • Providing delivery of unexpected things you normally have to trudge out for at the most inopportune times: Diapers.com
  • Offering apps so you don’t have to wait in line to order and pay: Panera
  • Offering table-top kiosks so you can pay for your bill without waiting for your server to come back: Legal Sea Foods
  • A connection to people in my neighborhood who are willing to do the errands I don’t have the time to do: Task Rabbit

So why do I still have no time? Well it’s simple. It’s not you, brands, it’s me.

I am still trying to cram too much into my day. Since I can get diapers and groceries and that last minute birthday gift and a pizza all delivered to my house before I get home tonight, I stay at work longer, or force a work out in or volunteer at my kid’s school instead of just taking the time to really enjoy the things I love. I am the reason I don’t have time. Which is exactly why I loved what REI did this holiday season with their #OptOutside idea. Not only did the idea sync perfectly with their brand vision and philosophy but this bold move forced all of us to once and for all open our collective eyes and ask – do we really need to do THAT with our time today (in this case shop on Black Friday) or, thanks to the internet and our phones, and brands helping us to save time, could we finally just STOP ourselves and take time to do the things we actually love?

I know I did. Here’s a shot from a hike I took with my family on Black Friday, thanks REI.

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So what’s the lesson here for brands? I think it’s two things: 1) Bravo for continuing to find ways to show respect for my time, and 2) Now, think differently about it. REI could have just said, “We promise not to have lines on Black Friday,” or “We will provide free gift wrap so you don’t have to take the time to do it at home,” both would have been time-savers, but instead they harkened back to who they are as a brand and applied that in a whole new time-saving way by saying:

We are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday. Please join us and inspire us with your experiences.”

So, brands, how can you encourage me to give myself the precious gift of time and save me from my self-imposed time-starved self? I’ll be waiting to see what you’ve got, right after I buy these shoes online, make a restaurant reservation and use my fitness app to see how many calories I have burned today.

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