Pressure and Time


I was never good in physics (barely managed to clear it in school) but am sure there must be some law which relates to pressure and time. How these two variables can impact the physical state of anything.

But the reason for this post is something which happens to us all the time. In our lives as well as how marketing goes about marketing…

Simply put, the amount of pressure exerted in a given period of time would lead to different consequences. Intense pressure in a very short time span vs sustained pressure over a longish period of time. And of course there will be other combination between these two levels. And these variables have significant influence on how we react to a certain situation… How brands react… how the economy reacts… how the market reacts…

Applied at a certain specific point, pressure and time work to create stress and lead to bahvioural changes. Behaviorally, people can withstand intense pressure only over short periods. If the intensity continues… it leads to breakdowns. It is pretty simple actually. All of us need a downtime between two high pressure periods.  Imagine an F1 race. If the race were to be over a 150 laps, maintaining the engines to perform at such high speeds would require technology that can sustain the same kind of torture that an engine is put through over average of 78 laps. Every engine has a threshold level for stress… so do human beings. Workoholics have their own mechanism to withstand pressure for a longer time but they also cannot go on forever. That is why ways to bust stress has become an industry by itself – the engine downtime…

In marketing and for brands, pressure and time have different role to play

With the way information spreads and is consumed today, most of the brands look for very high pressure in a very short period of time to impact a consumer. Even for long established brands, to retain interest and consumer loyalty, it is a function of ensuring that there are periods of activity when the communication pressure is intense.

While it would be an exaggeration, the whole AIDA principle now happens at a warp speed. When information comes at as like a meteor shower, our natural response kicks in and we make efforts to avoid as much as we can. So the brands also do their best to hit us with either a larger meteor or high speed to get ahead of other brands..

Creating and maintaining interest long enough to evoke a desire is even a bigger task when different product categories are vying for the same dollar.

And once you are through all that as a brand… to sustain continuous purchase is now a Utopia and it gets reflected in the fact that most brands are more keen on getting that first sale in… rather than working towards sustained pressure over a period of time. (Sale signs and communication across almost every product category sumbolize that). It is like the music today… How many  of the current bands do we really think would have the same kind of impact 50 years from now the way Beatles, The Doors, Eagles, or other bands from the 60’s 70’s or 80’s would continue to have? It is because the music industry is also packaging bands and music for this generation’s short attention span. They dont realize that while the youth listen to and are crazy about the new bands and their music, the dowload for the “oldies” has not gone down…

I believe that what is happening with music is a good example of what not to do for most brands. Product categories would come and go (holding interest)… so would brands… but the brand which would succeed is the brand which would transcend  the ‘here and nowness’ of the environment. Orkut has lost out to Facebook. American car makers have lost out to Japanese. Coke and Pepsi are losing out to fruit juices and so on..

Brands which believe that they either hitch their wagon to an existing trend or start a new trend… would fizzle out when the trend does.

We are all excited by the way youth are evolving and how technologies are evolving (remember most of the technologies have been adopted and evangelised by the youth) but as this youth world matures, stability would be back in demand and as we all know that every life stage is symbolized by products and brands, would the ‘hear and now’ brand would be part of the next life stage?

A brand would need to evolve strategy to maintain a certain amount of pressure (without beaing overbearing or fizzling out after one big burst) over a longer period of time to be a brand that is still a power brand 5 years from now.

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