According to BBC and many other outlets, the average attention span in adults fell from twelve seconds in 2000 down to eight seconds in 2016. This represents a 33 percent drop in an average person’s power of focus. And although it may seem that data like this is futile, it affects many areas of life. For instance, everyday tasks like listening to other people are directly affected by the fact that we find it more difficult to eliminate background noise.
Of course, not everyone dislikes these types of changes. Marketers are an obvious example of professionals who love the fact that customers’ attention spans are low. Why? Because it enables them to create short marketing campaigns that are much cheaper and still achieve a favorable outcome. So, how exactly does the fact that people cannot stay focused on something for much more than about eight seconds affect their buying patterns? Moreover, is there a correlation between these two factors that can be explored by advertisers who want to maximize profits? The answer is yes, absolutely.
More Impulse Purchases
Courtesy of a reduced attention span, one’s mind is bound to wander off as it jumps from one stimulus to the next. Thus, instead of over-focusing on a single item, people will under-focus on all of them. Enter impulse purchasing. For those unfamiliar, an impulse purchase includes any instance of someone starting a transaction without much planning beforehand, usually as a result of a reaction to some external stimuli. Well, the fact that people are becoming physically incapable of dedicating much of their attention to anything is the perfect environment for impulse buying.
According to a team of branding, marketing, and SEO experts from Clarity Ventures, the eight-second attention span is not guaranteed. In translation, there are always those who are going to be way outside of this and have much shorter or longer periods of focus. Nevertheless, millions of people who have short attention spans will commonly engage in emotion-driven transactions. This means that their final decision to buy something will be heavily influenced by their emotions about the product. Once again, one can explain this by reinforcing the lack of focus and planning that characterizes shorter periods of focus. Meaning, even though the party should not buy something due to budget-based constraints, their feelings about the product will overpower the rational concerns.
Increased Buyer’s Remorse
Expectedly, acquiring items after spending practically no time analyzing the situation will give rise to buyer’s remorse. Clarity Ventures explains this as a situation in which the buyer regrets spending their money. It is important to recognize that millions of people experience a certain degree of buyer’s remorse even after going through a plethora of planning. With impulse purchases, however, the likelihood of this happening is much higher. What is one way to avoid a situation like this? Well, minimizing purchases to only those items that have been explored in-depth.
Another important byproduct of a decreased attention span is the lack of effort that some customers shop with. So, for instance, instead of going through dozens of reviews about a product, they keyword-search it. This means that they seek to locate either extremely positive or negative comments. That way, they can effortlessly justify or reject their goal based on the few keywords that were obtained in a quick search. Unfortunately, doing this will create a very clear bias that clouds someone’s judgment. How? By making them focus on the type of keyword that they are subconsciously hoping comes up. Thus, if John Doe really dislikes the recent iPhone from Apple, they will be researching it from a non-neutral standpoint. On the contrary, their brain has already accepted the fact that the phone software is questionable, and they have no intention to prove themselves wrong.
Overcoming the Lack of Focus
Obviously, there are many reasons why everyone should try to overcome attention span issues. From a purchasing standpoint, it may enable them to minimize their buyer’s remorse and save money. So, how can people go about doing this? Well, a simple solution is to avoid focusing on emotions over rationale when making transactions. Also, spending enough time planning for any and all purchases will minimize the likelihood of unexpected expenses. Ultimately, practice and self-control in this area are going to dictate how efficient someone is when it comes to longer focus times and better buying choices!