When do we have time to consider time?

When do we have time to consider time?

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When do we have time to consider time?

Timing is Everything…Culturally Speaking

We never have enough time. It’s flying, wasted, or spent. In
marketing, we strive to be punctual for meetings and deadlines. So
when do we have time to consider time? For culturally sensitive
marketers, time is key. When we look to establish an emotional link
with a Hispanic consumer, we must consider the elements of culture
that control values, thoughts, and behaviors; and time is one of these
“dimensions [that] provides the nesting place for archetypes to take

Westerners tend to view time as linear. We see events in a straight
line, with each successive action following another. Many other
cultures see time not as monochronic, but polychronic, which is
characterized by events occurring simultaneously. The famous
anthropologist, Edward T. Hall, conducted extensive research of
monochronic and polychronic cultures found that cultural
miscommunication is often the result of not understanding the
different structures of scheduling or managing time. Hall concludes
that monochronic cultures (primarily North America and Northern
Europe) “emphasize schedules, punctuality, and preciseness.”
Monochronic cultures emphasize “doing” things, productivity, and
getting things done “one time.” Time should be managed and planned
and not wasted.[2]

A polychronic view of time, according to Hall, is primarily in Latin
American, African and Native American cultures.[3] When considering
other Hispanic archetypes, this is logical. Hispanic cultures “are
more likely than Anglos to believe that nature and the supernatural
control their lives.”[4] Therefore, time is associated with natural
rhythms, the earth, and seasons. It is not manipulated, but with a
higher power, and therefore it can be spontaneous or sporadic. “There
is more valued placed on “being” than on “doing”.”[5]

Now of course this view is over-generalized and simplistic. Levels of
assimilation, occupation, and general demographics may all effect the
degree of truthfulness in this assumption. Time can be a very
individualized concept, which I proved arriving late to an interview
with my Hispanic friend, Juan. He was born in Costa Rica, and
immigrated to the United States when he was fourteen. He is now
twenty-one and a college student. I sought to find out how he viewed
time in Latin American versus the United States.

Juan told me he was not offended by my tardiness, and asking why, he
replied, “Maybe you were talking to friends or family.” This
underscores another important dimension, the importance of
interpersonal relationships in the Hispanic culture. Juan explained
that when Americans travel to Costa Rica, they adjust to “Tico time”,
or the timing of Costa Ricans. He described “Tico time” as much more
laid back, and without rush. He made a clear distinction, however,
between this attitude and procrastination.

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The culture is not
centered on “putting things off” or laziness, rather a certain rhythm
or pace.

La Agencia de Orci & Asociados launched a successful television
campaign for Allstate Insurance Company. One television spot featured
a father on the beach watching his children play, picturing their
future profession. This idea of the future is deeply rooted in
interpersonal relationships for Hispanics.[6] Many television
commercials in America incorporate being late or not having enough
time, which equates to stress (and presumably the product that is
being offered helps to relieve this stress by giving the consumer more
time). It would be an over-generalization to think all Hispanics see
time as fluctuating and polychronic, but is certainly a cultural
dimension that should be explored during research.

Latin American literature also supports a polychronic view of time.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a master at manipulating time in Chronicle
of a Death Foretold. But probably the best example is Pablo Neruda’s
Pedro Paramo. Not only is time non-linear, but it is cyclical. There
is no timeline; narration will jump from past to present to future,
and events occur simultaneously.

Polychronism is clearly an important aspect of Hispanic culture, and
therefore, marketing. Implications from this cultural dimension are
subtle, interpretive, and vast. For example, when considering product
usage or consumption, “polychronic consumers are more likely to use
products with less attachment to schedules and timeframes.”[7]
Cultural time perception can also have implications for media habits.
A polychronic view of time allows Hispanics to do many tasks
simultaneously such as, read a magazine while listening to the radio.
So a media buyer should consider “advantageously plac[ing]
advertisements in both media at the same time to complement each
other.”[8] A Hispanics relationship to time is important to the
marketer and can prove important to an effective advertising
campaign. Researching this cultural dimension is always time well


[1] Korzenny, Felipe, & Korzenny, Betty Ann. (2005) Hispanic
Marketing: A Cultural Perspective. Burlington, MA: Elsevier
Butterworth- Heinemann.

[2] http://www.press.umich.edu/pdf/0472030604-appendixc.pdf.

[3] http://www.press.umich.edu/pdf/0472030604-appendixc.pdf.

[4] Korzenny, Felipe, & Korzenny, Betty Ann. (2005) Hispanic
Marketing: A Cultural Perspective. Burlington, MA: Elsevier
Butterworth- Heinemann.

[5] Elliott, C.E. (1999) Cross-Cultural Communication Styles.
Pre-publication Masters thesis

[6] http://www.laagencia.com/flash/portfolio.shtml

[7] Korzenny, Felipe, & Korzenny, Betty Ann. (2005) Hispanic
Marketing: A Cultural Perspective. Burlington, MA: Elsevier
Butterworth- Heinemann.

[8] Korzenny, Felipe, & Korzenny, Betty Ann. (2005) Hispanic
Marketing: A Cultural Perspective. Burlington, MA: Elsevier
Butterworth- Heinemann.
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