In short it’s how people consume and process media in both time and priority.
Usually monochronic people process one thing at a time and then move on to the next task, preferably in an orderly and sequential. Whereas polychronic people deal with multiple tasks simultaneously or conduct many tasks at once.
So why is this relevant to marketing communications?
Because two generations have been taught to process information contrarily to their parents or other family members. This produces a unique dilemma to many marketers. The question is how should I allocate promotional media budgets? To understand this dynamic we first of all need to identify who is a Monochronic or Polychronic consumer. Secondly what type of device they prefer or use the most often.
Most people over the age of 40 were instructed to read sequentially, one word and then page after another. This was perfect for the mass media marketers of the 40’s to 90’s. In the late 90’s people started to defy conventional messaging by disrupting the control channel and attention span. While most monochromic consumers accepted and embraced broadcast media, younger generations did not.
Conversely the digital consumer (whose main demographic is under 40 and mostly grew up with computers, internet, cell phones etc) rejected or changed media distribution and consumption based on their personal preferences and also processed multi-media at the same time.
So consider these differences during your next planning meetings.