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Patience is a virtue

Updated: Oct 5

We live in a society where quick fixes and instant gratification are the norm. Whether it be in the form of our fashion consumption (which as we know, is just getting faster), ordering our weekly groceries, an Uber, or even a takeaway dinner.


Being wedded to our phones, and social media, means we can do this anytime, anywhere, all with a couple of clicks of a button.


Gone are the days, for instance, where you would have takeaway menus under your "landline" phone, or stuck to your fridge, and you would actually have to take the time to call and speak to an actual human to order your pizza or Chinese. Can you imagine?!


If we have to wait more than a couple of days for something to be delivered, we become frustrated, upset even. In some cases, it is unacceptable if it doesn’t arrive the same day.


I do all my shopping online. So I get it. I get 'aggy' too when I can't get my Ocado order for the next day. Thanks to the likes of Amazon, we are ‘Primed’ (excuse the pun) to same, or next day delivery.


But are we overlooking the virtue of patience? (Evelyn definitely saw it's value in The Mummy...closet fan).


The pre-order model

So where am I heading with all this.


I recently stumbled across an article on Drapers online, which examined the power of the emerging pre-order sales model, and I think there is merit in this.


The article outlined some obvious advantages of the pre-order model;

  • allowing retailers to gauge desire before going into production, therefore being more sustainable as supply meets demand;

  • being popular with customers who seek exclusivity and desirable cult products;

  • allowing the more 'edgy', and directional luxury retailers to become more confident and risk-adverse, as they can gain a read for trends or individuals products, and therefore minimise the requirement for 'sales'.

On the flip side however, the pre-order model has it drawbacks;

  • being a challenge from a logistical point of view;

  • requiring big behavioural shifts, as consumers are asked to wait patiently for their orders, despite being accustomed to the fast fashion model of today;

  • requiring strict adherence to delivery times.


Fast verses slow

The fast fashion model only fuels surges of that chemical dopamine (I have written about this before) - but for a quick recap - a surge of dopamine occurs when we experience a ‘wanting' for something new and exciting. This feeling of desire is short lived however, as our dopamine levels return to normal as we hand over that credit card.


Would adopting the essence of the pre-order model (i.e. delay of gratficiation), only help to counter this, leaving us more satisifed and fulfilled?


Delay of gratification: “the act of resisting an impulse to take an immediately available reward in the hope of obtaining a more-valued reward in the future. The ability to delay gratification is essential to self-regulation, or self-control.”

Freud's Pleasure Principle

To help explain this, let's take a look at Freud's 'pleasure principle', which refers to the "instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoidance of pain in order to satisfy biological and psychological needs". It is this principle that drives the 'id', one of the three major components of Freud's model of the psyche.


Freud likened the pleasure principle to the concept of the reality. For example, the idea of not buying 'x', instead saving the money, could help you buy 'y' for your future. Delaying gratification in this instance will not only pay off when you're older, but will also improve your tolerance for waiting. Simple, almost common sense!


When we seek that instant gratification, and accompanying immediate pleasure, such as those mindless fast fashion shopping binges, we are actually resorting back to our toddler ways (as you will see in the next example).


Mischel's 'Marshmallow test'

American psychologist Walter Mischel and colleagues' infamous experimental study involved asking a child to choose between a larger treat (e.g. 2 marshmallows), and a smaller treat (e.g. one marshmallow). While the smaller treats are made available, in order to obtain the larger treat, the child must wait for the experimenters return, therefore resisting the temptation to get an immediate treat.

In some ways, are we the child who can’t resist the temptation of that single little marshmallow when we hand over that credit card to buy that cocktail dress because it feels good in the moment (not so, when the credit card bill arrives, and you realise that within that billing period you wore that dress for 2 hours. Not ideal!). What we are simply doing however, is easing our discomfort for that moment.


What can we learn from that 'pre-order' wait?

While there are the obvious advantages to the 'pre-order' model that were touched on earlier, there is the potential to go a little deeper.


This model could be part of the answer to pre-emptively slow down, and shift consumer mindsets and behaviours.


Clothes should, and do take time to produce. They are worth the wait.


When considering the preparation of ‘fashion’ we often don’t think about the fact that our clothes have passed through many hands to make it into our wardrobes. This is something that is often overlooked when going through the daily routine of getting dressed.


What if we were in a position to follow the 'journey' (cliche choice of words, I know) of our clothes, such as cutting to machining, and on to packaging and transport, in real time - just like we track the delivery of our Amazon parcel. Being privy to the ‘start’ of our garments narrative before we add the middle and end, can only enhance our appreciation of it. Yeah?!


Would you be willing to 'pre-order' and wait for your clothing? Do you think this model has the potential to change consumer mindsets and behaviours?


Leave me a comment or let me know via my 'Contact' page.

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