Making the Wait Worthwhile: Experiments on the Effect of Queueing on Consumption

45 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2017 Last revised: 26 Jun 2019

See all articles by Sezer Ulku

Sezer Ulku

Georgetown University McDonough School of Business; Georgetown University - Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business

Chris Hydock

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo - Orfalea College of Business

Shiliang Cui

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business

Date Written: November 13, 2018

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between waiting time and subsequent purchase decisions. The prior literature assumes that purchase decisions are independent from the waiting time. In contrast, we find that when people spend a longer time waiting in a line, they tend to consume more. We identify mental accounting for sunk costs as the underlying mechanism that drives this behavior; a larger purchase allows customers to offset the long wait suffered. Finally, we explore the effect of managerial practices commonly employed by firms to improve customers’ waiting experience. We find that while these practices indeed result in improved customer experience, they can actually result in lower consumption at the individual level.

Keywords: Mental Accounting, Sunk Cost Fallacy, Consumer Behavior in Queues, Behavioral Operations

Suggested Citation

Ulku, Sezer and Hydock, Chris and Cui, Shiliang, Making the Wait Worthwhile: Experiments on the Effect of Queueing on Consumption (November 13, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3007786 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3007786

Sezer Ulku (Contact Author)

Georgetown University McDonough School of Business ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Georgetown University - Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business ( email )

3700 O Street, NW
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Chris Hydock

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo - Orfalea College of Business ( email )

San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
United States

Shiliang Cui

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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