Video: Friday, 6 February 2015

It’s possible to have conflicting goals such as wanting to be sustainable, but taking the car to work to get there more quickly and be more productive – this is how pursuing one goal can interfere with others. New research by Ioannis Evangelidis of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and co-authors Jordan Etkin (Duke University) and Jennifer Aaker (Stanford University), shows interfering goals make customers feel time-constraint. Therefore, they appreciate time-saving products and services more – and are more willing to spend money to save time.

Time is money – when goals conflict

Why do people feel so pressed for time? Evangelidis’ research reveals this leads back to peoples’ daily goals which often conflict with each other – another example is wanting to pay the cheapest price for high quality products. And although wants and desires might not be conflicting, they often become conflicting in the minds of consumers, causing stress and anxiety. Perceived conflict between goals makes consumers feel they have less time, thus making what little available time they have seem more valuable.

Time-saving products and services

This also applies to businesses and consumers. Evangelidis advocates considering time factors when businesses are marketing products that have the potential to cause goal conflict or have already caused goal conflict. Consumers appreciate time-saving products and services more highly when they see their goals as conflicting, for example, they are willing to pay extra for fast shipment of a bargain bought from a web shop, and household appliances that have an option for faster cycles – like washing machines and dryers – become more important to customers who experience goal conflict.

Evangelidis, Etkin and Aaker want to urge consumers to keep in mind that goals in themselves don’t conflict; they are only perceived as conflicting. Taking slow breaths and employing self-motivating techniques can diminish the feeling of having conflicting goals.

On the other hand, marketeers can use this time factor to their advantage. If customers have to choose, that choice will require goal-related tradeoffs. Customers will value not having to wait for their purchase so an option offering fast shipment for a fee is likely to be taken up. “Make sure to offer a fast delivery option,” advises Evangelidis, “they will be willing to pay for it.”

Ioannis Evangelidis

Former Researcher

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