What is new media doing to consumer psychology?

No doubt one of the biggest impacts new media has had on psychology is the insatiable need for instant gratification.

Indeed, the whole Generation Y has been branded as being addicted to instant gratification.

However there is also another psychological trend that new media has brought about, one that is directly contrary to instant gratification.

I call this trend Delayed Onset Gratification, or the D.O.G.

Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t what it used to be

Lets take rock concerts as an example.

It used to be that when your favourite rock bank played their hit ballad, everyone in the crowd would pull out their lighters and wave them around, causing an impressive and highly emotional effect.

That doesn’t really happen anymore, and not just because of effective anti-smoking advertising.

Now, everyone pulls out their smart phones or digital cameras and records the experience so that they can enjoy it again later, and share it with friends not lucky enough to get a ticket to the concert.

Thankfully to accommodate this trend, Zippo has launched a virtual Zippo iPhone app so you can have all the fun of a lighter at a rock concert without setting the crowd surfers alight.

But in that simple action, of recording the experience, we are taking away from the experience as it is actually happening.

We are delaying the onset of our gratification.

I’m sure many native tribes who believe that taking photos captures a piece of the soul, will not be happy about this trend. 

It’s all Facebook’s fault

Facebook is a lot to blame for this trend, and I am convinced that as far as posing for photos is concerned, “Facebook!” is the new “Cheese!”.

Think back to a recent party you have been to and recall the number of times you have heard “that will look great on Facebook” following a photo.

We are not living in the present

I find this trend fascinating especially as it flies in the face of other real world trends we are seeing towards yoga and meditation, which are all about being entirely IN the moment, or being present.

Can we help it?

My digital camera died a few months back, and I have put off replacing it for a while.

I have found that enjoying the moment, instead of getting caught up in delayed onset gratification, has made me a much happier person.

But the pull of delayed onset gratification is so great that I will be getting a digital camera again soon.

It seems that once you have been bitten by the D.O.G, you have been infected forever.

What does it mean for marketers

If you are doing anything experiential, you must be giving something for the user to take away to enjoy later or share with friends, be it a photo or video they can download from an event website, or even a promotional item.

If you are not, you will not satisfy their need for delayed onset gratification, so they will find a way to do it themselves, taking their attention away from what you are trying to communicate.

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Categories: Psychology


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