Consumer Behavior

A Change in Consumer Habits: From On-Demand to Do-It-For-Me

“There is nothing permanent except change”  – Heraclitus

The increasing usage of on-demand services like Uber and Postmates symbolize the diminishing of consumer patience and tolerance for waiting.

Your business expects people to wait for 30 minutes for your service to arrive?

Ha, I have better options.

Your mobile app requires me to click more than a few buttons to get something done?

Not going to happen.

This is the growing reality for the products and services that keep our  economy going.

The more interesting trend is that in addition to expecting products/services to be available immediately, consumers are increasingly beginning to feel that much of the trivial work that they used to do should be done by someone else.

If you haven’t heard about startup services like Magic, Operator and others, I’m confident you will in the near future.

New concierge-like services are popping up quickly that enable you to outsource the small actions that you previously needed to do on a daily basis to get things done.

And they are gaining traction.

Want to order a pizza? Instead of picking up the phone, going to the website or using the mobile app, you can just use Magic to text what you want and someone will handle the rest for you.

Want to reserve a hotel or book a flight? Done, potentially within a 140-characters or less.

Since your credit card info is stored, most of the friction is removed. Everything else becomes pretty seamless. (Details like who you are and where you live become obvious after you use the service once)

These easy but time-consuming tasks can now be outsourced to these companies’ employees, contractors, and in some cases, algorithms.

Why do the work when someone else can do it for you?

In the case of Operator, which is made by some of the people behind Uber, the hassle of shopping for hard-to-find items can be easily done through a mobile interface.

Looking for a unique decorative item for your home? Done.

Buying products, reserving appointments and booking services will become as easy as texting your significant other.

Whether this is a positive habit that our society should be forming is debatable.

What is not debatable is how easy technology and distributed workforces enable such cheap, fast and customized services.

The reality that will likely emerge is that users of such services will be people who have more money than time.

We saw this with Ebay and Amazon, as a broad analogy.

For non-essential consumer products, using these websites was a decision of spending time vs money.

If you had more time than money, you could spend time bidding on items on Ebay and get the best deal on a product.

If you had more money than time, you would just buy it on Amazon knowing you got a good deal, but likely not the best deal.

My guess is that similar outcomes will result with this emergence of new concierge services. As services become cheaper, usage and access will increase across all economic levels.

With such a fast-moving technological landscape, I think this is still one of the earlier trends we will see in modern consumer behavior.

From ‘I want it now’ to ‘I want you to handle it for me,’ our expectations on how to get things done are changing, fast.

Thoughts?

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