Today Americans believe not only in working hard but also in playing hard. Increased productivity and affluence have resulted in replacing long hours of hard work with longer vacation periods, shorter workweeks, and more paid holidays. This has generated increased leisure time in which activity is still stressed, but it is manifested in numerous leisure pursuits as evidenced by the boom in participant sports such as tennis and golf. Often the activity is a competitive one, and marketers frequently use such appeals as the basis for ads. Ike has focused on this value in its Just Do It advertising campaign for athletic shoes.
Related to this value of activity is the associated factor of time pressure. Time is a precious commodity to Americans. Americans value leisure time as highly as they value money. Those who are the most time pressured are women, parents, and minorities. In the 1990s, quality time will become a luxury status symbol.
The lack of leisure time can add lifestyle stresses. Mandatory shopping activities reduce discretionary leisure time and can increase the consumer’s pressure. Research indicates that about 35 percent of all households view shopping as a necessary but undesirable intrusion on leisure activity. Louis Harris Associates report that 63 percent of Americans feel that shopping is mostly or entirely drudgery. Perhaps this explains why people are compressing their shopping time. In 1991, the average consumer spent 68 minutes on a small shopping trip, compared to 90 minutes in 1988.Twenty-eight percent of consumer purchase are made from direct marketing sources such as Lands End and LL Ban some strategic supermarket shoppers organize shopping lists in the order that products are shelved in the store. Because their time is at a premium and the shopping trip takes so much effort and cost, they aim for maximum planning.
Because time is a precious commodity to Americans, marketing approaches that save time and effort are valued in our society. Convenience is something we will readily pay extra for. For instance, the food industry has learned that consumers are willing to pay a premium for products that help them gain more control over their lives. And contrary to previous generations, many are willing to, sacrifice creativity to obtain convenience. For example, Pillsbury Co. discontinued its Yeast Bread mix, which was supposed to cut the time it took to make bread down to half an hour from two and a half hours while still giving people the satisfaction of having baked their own bread. It turned out that half an hour was too much.
Progress and Achievement:
Americans believe in progress for society and in achievement and success for the individual. We are oriented toward the future rather than the past and believe in change and forward movement. Personal achievement is stressed as evidenced by the success story and by our desire to master the physical world. We also prize the characteristics of self reliance and initiative. The ad for Baldwin incorporates achievement values in its messages to parents.
One manifestation of our emphasis on progress in America is the sometimes wasteful use of material possessions and resources. Contemporary America stresses continuous style changes and the discarding of still functionally useful products in order to buy what is new. Of course, the marketer benefits from an environment which is so conducive to innovative and in which consumers are eager to have the most up to date.
An indication of our culture’s orientation toward achievement from a marketing perspective is the importance placed on certain symbols in our society. Because achievement often has a materialistic aspect to it, Americans grant to owners of certain products the stamp of having arrived. For example a Cadillac or Mercedes tells something about the achievement of its owner, as do a large house in the right neighborhood and expensive clothing. These products are symbols to their owners as well as to others, and their meanings are usually unmistakable.