Luth Research recently released their IndicatorEDG report on multi-tasking. It looks like we are spending more and more time -- on average, 20 hours a week -- attempting to do two things at once.
"On average, 17 percent of our time awake -- approximately 19.80 hours per week -- is spent using two or more media simultaneously, according to the latest quarterly findings (Quarter 1, 2007) from Luth Research's IndicatorEDG™, an online study surveying more than 5,000 respondents in the U.S. The media in question included all mass media (e.g., TV, radio, Internet) and personal electronic devices (e.g., cell phone, MP3 player, wireless email device)."
Those who aren't employed spend more time in media multi-tasking -- no surprise there. But so do retired people, who average close to 26 hours a week in media multi-tasking. [So your suspicions are correct -- Mom or Dad really are watching the TV while talking to you on the phone.]
And most of this media multi-tasking is TV together with something else --
"Watching TV was named by nearly half of the respondents to be what they typically do
when working on the Internet or email through a computer. One in five people have their TV on while using their cell phone to make phone calls. TV seems to be a natural fit to co-own consumer time and space with other print media, as 20 percent of the respondents cited TV as the medium they were also using when reading a newspaper, a magazine, or a book."
Those that are spending more time media multi-tasking report that they are less happy overall than others.*
What does this mean for customer experience and customer communications?
If you thought it was hard to get people's attention before, guess what? It's going to get harder. So clarity in all communications is essential.
In these circumstances, is it realistic to expect people to absorb the fine print, or read between the lines of your offer? Probably not, in my view.
Greater redundancy in communication is also a good idea. Don't assume people are actually informed about your policies or product features or hours of operation. Make it clear, easy to find, and say it often.
If it's directed at anyone who is retired, make the print on the box big enough to scan at a glance, because that might be all it gets.
And your advertising had better be interesting enough to compete with other media. Even if it's only getting half an ear or half an eyeball, it needs to get a message through.
Resources and notes:
Here's the link to the five-page PDF report: IndicatorEDG Research: Media Multitasking
* Note that this should not be construed as a cause -- perhaps the multi-tasking is a response to other life circumstances, which are the underlying cause of the unhappiness