When you can be Impatient, Why Be Patient?
By Harish Bijoor
Youth and trends? That’s really an oxymoron, dear moron!
And that starting sentence of mine, in-the-eye, in-the-face, and in the gut, is really the way they talk. “Hey Dog” is a loving appellation. A side hug that follows, that could get your shoulder dislocated due to impact strength, is a way of bonding with you and telling you we are one. We come from the same generation, and we are headed to the same hell as well.
The young in this country are difficult to understand. Youth and trends are words that don’t necessarily go together. The youth as a category and genre defies trends. The moment something sets in and looks like a seeming trend, the category moves its cheese and chips and Coke. Trend is for the old. The young believe in change. Change that is forever, and discontinuous. And discontinuous trend is really not a trend. Difficult thing to track with method, science and meaning as well. Those who believe they are trend-spotters, who have arrived, live in a fool’s paradise. The trend you write about is as old as the day it was written. It is jaded now, and there is something new around today. Let’s wake up and smell the young sweat.
Since trends are difficult to track, and once having been tracked, have this yen to change, there is a great way of keeping in touch with the youth and what they do, what they wear, what they speak, what they eat and what they drink and how they party. Just watch them at it. Track them. Track them without them knowing you are tracking them. Catch them in their natural surroundings. By the way this is not their home, their school, their college or their spanking new entry-level offices. Instead, it is the third-place where they are letting their hair down. Catch them in their gyms, the beauty-parlors, the Cafes, the pubs, the discs and more. It is here that they are themselves. Catch them as well on twitter and Face Book. Catch them on Tagged. Catch them with their pants down with their second and third digital handles that run as “HotArun” and “HawtGAWD” and “CoolKHIMCHI” and “KoolKHICHDI” alike. Catch them on sites you never thought guys and girls like them would ever be. The foot-prints you track today must be both physical and digital. And just as there are “physical third-places”, there are “digital third-places” where they hang out as well. And then when you have watched them 1:1 in myriad “third-place” locations, build that pen-picture of theirs. This will change in three months flat. Therefore, keep building those pen-pictures every month, month on month, and keep calibrating your mind, mood, language, tone and tenor of the youth at large. You just might be on the right track then.
This piece on youth trend is therefore not as much as telling you the trends as teaching you how to trend-track in today’s crazy youth world. Teach a man to fish, rather than give him a now-truly-dead Pomfret you caught this morning.
I do a fair bit of it. I use a lot of it in my strategy consulting assignments as I do donning my “Keynote speaker “avatar as well. On the whole, watching people do what they do, with science as your tool, analytics as your buddy, and consumer skills as your science, art and philosophy, one can go places.
If there is one seminal thought I want to give in this piece, it is the thought to say that this generation baffles us all marketers. I call this Gen. “The I-Gen.”. The Internet Generation? No! The Impatient Generation!
Impatience is the hallmark of the youth. Patience cycles have progressively become smaller and smaller. Today, patience is dead and is no longer a virtue. Impatience is the new virtue. The more impatient you are, the more of a ‘go-getter-youth’ you are. The idea is a simple one. When you can be Impatient, why be patient?
Impatience hits you in the face all around in the lives of the young. The youth is impatient with love. There are relationships on the front-burner, just as there is a parallel one on the back-burner. Multi-hob is the way to go. And in some cases there is love on the sleeve, there is love in the heart and there is love in the wallet as well.
Impatience looks large with its beady moist eyes in marriages that are on the rocks rather fast. There is impatience in sex and there is just no binding yourself tight within the confines of a marriage anymore. If sex is bad in the house, go to the Cafetaria and get it. And the Cafetaria is large and welcoming, with no strings attached. It is a veritable buffet on offer. Relationships start stretching at the seams a bit too fast.
Impatience is everywhere, and the salivating marketer is ready to cater to it. When you fracture your patella and rush to the hospital, there are two cures possible really. The patient one is to be in a cast for six weeks, and the impatient one is do what the doctor in the big hospital is recommending. Put in those nuts and bolts and be up and about in one week flat. The marketer here (in benign disguise) is the doctor recommending the high-priced quick-fix versus the low-priced plaster of Paris in blue. This is everywhere in every realm you tread in youth space. Pay the price and get the lost time back. Time is a big part of the currency game. We live with two currencies today: time and money. At times time is at a premium over money even.
There is impatience in the foods we eat, fast food versus regular food. Restaurants versus QSR’s. Quick-serve restaurants versus slow-serve restaurants, if you will. There is impatience in the yen to create wealth, just as there is impatience to spend it all. The bio-clock of the youth at large is ticking at a pace that seems much more frenetic than at any time in our marketing history to date. There seems to be very little time to live, might as well live it fast and furious. Fashion, lifestyle, entertainment and digital use is witnessing this impatience all around.
What then is the real problem at hand? It’s not what, it’s who? The marketers. Marketers In the country are an older lot. Marketers are much older than the people they market to. Marketers are good at the old marketing format: Patience Marketing. Marketers today are good at marketing to patient consumers. Impatience is a mindset they just do not understand well enough. Even if they do, there is lip-service done to it. There is also this dominant attitude and notion in the minds of older marketers (and by old I mean age 30 and above, ouch!), that this impatience is a fad, and it will pass as well.
Marketers need to learn and practice impatience then to market to the youth. Embrace impatience within your brand DNA. Pack impatience within your brand offering, and showcase it to the youth. Resonate with this impatience and be a part of it rather than be a part that criticizes it and passes value-judgments on it, just as an older person is bound to.
Harish Bijoor is a brand-strategy specialist & CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.