Time Is More Valuable Than Money

It turns that mentioning “time” in advertising can help drive sales; considerably more than mentioning “money.” According to Jennifer Aaker, Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business, who recently published some research on the topic:

Because a person’s experience with a product tends to foster feelings of personal connection with it, referring to time typically leads to more favorable attitudes-and to more purchases

Here are a couple of the interesting research projects:

  • A lemonade stand-operated by two six-year olds used three different signs:  “Spend a little time and enjoy C&D’s lemonade”;  “Spend a little money, and enjoy C&D’s lemonade”; and “Enjoy C&D’s lemonade.” After displaying only one sign at a time, customers were told they could pay between $1 and $3 for a cup of lemonade; the exact amount was up to them. The result: The sign stressing time attracted twice as many passersby-who were willing to pay almost twice as much-than when the money sign was displayed.
  • College students who owned iPods were either asked: “How much time have you spent on your iPod?” or “How much money have you spent on your iPod?” Students asked about time reported more favorable attitudes toward their iPods.

My take: I surveyed more than 4,500 US consumers about how they select the companies that they do business with. It turns out that customer service was considered more important than price across all 12 industries that I examined. The research will likely get published in April.

This is all good news for marketers; since it lessens the need to emphasize price. Also, it reinforces just how important customer experience is within any companies’ value proposition.

The bottom line: If you value customers’ time, they’ll find you more valuable.

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I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

5 thoughts on “Time Is More Valuable Than Money”

  1. That’s really interesting. Time is our most precious resource, so it makes sense that a focus on time leads to more favorable attitudes. I find it somewhat surprising because it seems like society often values money more than time. An individual who earns $100,000 and works 80 hours a week is usually viewed as more successful than an individual who makes $50,000 and works 40 hours a week. However, if we really value time over money, wouldn’t the later individual be considered more successful?

  2. You’re equating apples and oranges. Time is more valuable in a personal context, but less so in a work context. If you want to be able to do what you want with your personal time, you have to first have “enough” money. And so until you have “enough”, earning money is more important than saving time. Ultimately all the money serves to save what is actually the most precious resource. People see higher earning as the ability to retire earlier, which is seen as ultimate success for most people.

  3. There may also be some cultural issues. Even in a country where keeping up with the Jones’ is popular, bragging about how much money you have or spend is not always looked upon with favor; usually it inspires envy and resentment. With time savings, that is a comfortable idea that everyone agrees is wonderful and it incites fewer of the negative emotions than the idea of money.

  4. Charles, Melamat, and Jody: Thanks for the comments. The research didn’t really dig into what consumers prefer, in terms of time vs. money, just what resonated more in advertising. People tend to respond differently to things than you might guess based on some of their outward behaviors and attitudes. That’s because a lot of the response to stimuli like advertising comes from the subconscious. There’s probably some unique differences across cultures. I’m reading an interesting book called “Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy What We Buy” that I’ve referenced before in my blog. I’ll be posting some more interesting insights about the book in the future.

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