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The Set List: Instant Gratification

Expectations of immediacy have never been higher. How should brands meet these expectations?

Editor’s note: this blog is the second in a series discussing trends and insights into the world around us.


Sound familiar? In our digitally enabled world of instant access, expectations of immediacy have never been higher, and the demand for immediate results has seeped into all aspects of our lives.

In his book, "The Impulse Society," Paul Roberts writes that "our entire consumer culture has elevated immediate gratification to life’s primary goal." This is further proved by Kissmetrics statistics on "How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line," revealing that 47 percent of consumers expect a website to load in two seconds or less.

Our impatience can be seen across all industries. Fashion is becoming even faster, with retailers changing the rules with the revolution of ‘Click and buy’ at this season’s fashion weeks. Brands such as Rebecca Minkoff and Tommy Hilfiger provided customers with the opportunity to purchase the collection straight from the catwalk, feeding into the ‘see it now, want it to now’ consumer culture.

The evolution of mail delivery in an era of instant gratification has also been re-imagined by Amazon, which launched the concept of Amazon Prime Air, a future service that will deliver packages in 30 minutes or less using small drones. Just Eat, an online food order and delivery service, has also been testing delivery ‘Droids’ which are land-based, autonomously-driven robots. The Future Laboratory trend researcher Victoria Buchanan said, "the idea that someone would want to sit in and wait all day for an ASOS package is ridiculous," suggesting that these innovative prototypes will make same-day deliveries look like an ancient concept.

Virtual Reality has steadily been opening up the realm of opportunity for many industries from Chevrolet’s VR powered Test Drive to Samsung’s prototyped Bedtime VR stories. VR feeds into the notion of instant access and immediate availability by providing immersive experiences on the go. Google Cardboard Reality VR recently reached London, distributing thousands of free cardboards to give the public a taster experience of the potential of VR, from exploring cities in Google Maps to discovering Abbey Road Studios in collaboration with NME.

What’s next for Generation Impatient? Will "I want it now" transform into "I want it before it even happens?" Our notion of time is set to become even more valuable. As speed continues to increase in the future, our expectation of ‘instant’ could become even faster. People will be even less willing to wait mere seconds for a video to load or for a full fashion show to buy items. Several brands are already taking advantage of this concept. Adidas is offering preview access and priority on product launch news to their most loyal customers who are part of their ‘invite only’ Social Media communities on WhatsApp and Facebook. Perhaps the next level of instant gratification lies in the realm of exclusivity. Who knows? In a multichannel age, the future of retail is continually being shaped by the desire for convenience, the desire for immediacy and instant gratification.

Kseniya is a lifestyle strategist in Gensler’s London office who collaborates with her clients and teams to design environments that facilitate enriching experiences. Fueled by a curiosity to understand human behaviour and cultural trends, she is intrigued by the intersection of design, research and consumer needs and the roles they place in creating meaningful spaces. Contact her at kseniya_sharin@gensler.com .