Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do you want Tea or Coffee? Multi-tasking makes it tough on marketers

Anyone who has a kid (or a wife/husband, for that matter) will understand. Ever ask a simple question ("Do you want tea or coffee?") and get "uh-huh" or "Yes, Mom" for an answer?

Tea or CoffeeSomeone didn't hear, wasn't listening or was probably multi-tasking. Maybe all three.

Our brains only have so much capacity. But ask a tricky question (Tea? Coffee?) of someone whose mind is focused elsewhere (football? Grand Theft Auto?) and you can expect a lot less than their full time and attention.

Consider this: a report from the University of California at San Diego says that in 2008 Americans spent 1.3 trillion leisure hours consuming information. That's leisure hours! Or 12 hours per day every day for each one of us.

Since we typically use 9 hours at work (or enroute) + 8 hours in sleep and the length of the day is still 24 hours, we are cramming 12 hours of information processing into the 7 remaining hours, assuming we do nothing else. No eating. No exercising. No shopping. No showering. No walking the dog. Nothing else. Just processing information.

We do it by multi-tasking.

Watch TV and check your email—that's multi-tasking. Multi-task for an hour, and you earn 2 hours in the UCSD study. Play video games and listen to music all Saturday afternoon, while texting your friends regularly and you'll really rack up the hours. See how easy it is?

UCSD says we each spend 5 hours in front of the TV per day...2 hours with the radio...2 hours on the computer...1 hour gaming...36 minutes reading print media and 27 minutes listening to recorded music.

No wonder a deeply philosophical question like Tea or Coffee gets lost in all the noise!

All this noise presents an immense marketing challenge. As the media options expand (remember, in 2008 there was no Wii, no I-pad, no Droids or i-phones, and FaceBook and Twitter were just getting a head of steam) our challenges will only increase.

Getting your message through?What are you doing to get your message heard through all that jumble of noise?

I'd love to hear from you! If you can spare the time away from Pandora.

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