The willing suspension of instant gratification

Tesla model 3I read a bunch of articles this weekend about Tesla’s Model 3 rollout. Headlines about the 63,000 people that cancelled their order seemed to be alarmist when you read the copy and saw CEO, Elon Musk’s relief that they might fulfill the remaining 450,000 orders a fraction earlier as a result. And, that’s not counting the 1,800 orders a day since the first car rolled off the production lot about 10 days ago.

This is a case study we’ll be studying for years. James McQuivey, my former colleague at Forrester,  described the unveiling of the Model 3 as the biggest Kickstarter project in history. Think about it: thousands of people stood in line to reserve a spot to pay $1,000 as a downpayment for a car that they would receive more than 18 months later. The 300,000 orders that Tesla received in the first several weeks alone represented over $14 billion in potential sales. Of course, the wait list of subscribers is more than 150,000 longer now!

What’s super-interesting is how willing we are – in the right circumstances – to put our entitlement on hold. I don’t have any way to prove it, but I’d bet that a higher percentage than average of Tesla Model 3 buyers are Entitled Consumers. I bet they skew techie, youngish, and very, very demanding. We think of speed and convenience as two of the key things that marketers need to deliver to Entitled Consumers – yet when the product and brand and experience is right, we are willing to suspend our need for instant gratification and shelve our entitlement. It’s not just Tesla. Look at every iPhone launch. Check out the lines of people in Madison Square park waiting for a burger via the ShakeShack Shackcam. Or wander by Dominique Ansel Bakery around 3pm. You’ll find hundreds of people waiting in line for the product they want – often tingling with excitement and anticipation, without a hint of entitlement in sight!

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