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What is Time Pressure and Why Does it Matter?

Jun 29, 2016   |   2 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

“I found the exact item I want, online, for a great price-so I’ll buy it next week,” said no one, ever. In the age of Amazon one-click shipping, same-day delivery services, ride-sharing and other near-instant gratification offerings we can purchase wherever and whenever we want – and “when” is usually “now”.

Consumers feel a sense of time pressure to buy, whether or not they actually need the item in that moment. By better understanding time pressure, marketers can meet consumers exactly when and where they’re most likely to engage them.

Today we’re going to take a look at the psychology behind time pressure, and how you can seize the opportunity to create marketing magic.

What is Time Pressure?

Time pressure is a type of psychological stress that occurs when a person has less time available (real or perceived) than is necessary to complete a task or obtain a result. When a consumer feels time pressure, they narrow their focus. They complete less research and compare less criteria. Let’s consider two scenarios.

Low time pressure: You’re lying in bed one evening browsing on your tablet, and you decide you want a speaker for your patio. A quick search yields dozens of options, and you carefully compare details. You consider whether a speaker is waterproof, wireless, Bluetooth compatible and read reviews. You spend as much time as you feel necessary, and eventually make a purchase.

High time pressure: Now let’s say it’s the morning of your big annual Labor Day cookout. Seventy-five people will be at your home in less than an hour, and your spouse sends you to Best Buy for an outdoor speaker. There are several options, but you have mere seconds to make a decision. You spot a familiar brand, grab the speaker and rush to the checkout.

In situations of low time pressure, consumers are more likely to give multiple brands fair consideration. But in our procrastination-loving, always-on-the-go society, low time pressure events are rare.

How Marketers Can Use Time Pressure

The greatest takeaway from the lesson in time pressure is context is everything. The better you understand where, when and why a customer is making a purchase, the better your opportunity of earning that sale. The device or platform a customer is using can be the best indicator. (Check out our recent post on identity matching to learn more about connecting the dots across the customer journey for greater context.)

Below are a few email tips to help you take advantage of high time pressure purchase habits:

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