Work-to-Unlock Rewards: Leveraging Goals in Reward Systems to Increase Consumer Persistence
38 Pages Posted: 26 May 2021
Date Written: May 25, 2021
Six studies (N = 3,209) demonstrate that introducing a period in which consumers must work-to-unlock continuous rewards increases persistence relative to when consumers can earn continuous rewards for their effort right away. When working to unlock rewards, consumers must complete a target number of goal-related actions before receiving continuous rewards for their actions (e.g., start receiving continuous rewards after going to the gym four days). We suggest that the motivating power of work-to-unlock rewards arises because (1) work-to-unlock rewards naturally encourage consumers to set an attainable goal to start earning rewards, motivating consumers initially through goal setting and (2) keep consumers persisting after reaching this initial goal through the provision of continuous rewards. Work-to-unlock rewards thus leverage goal setting and continuous rewards to increase persistence relative to standard continuous rewards across a variety of consumer relevant domains (e.g., exercising, flossing, shopping, etc.), and when reward magnitude is equivalent or lower for work-to-unlock rewards. We further identify theoretically consistent boundary conditions of this effect, such as length of the unlocking period, knowledge of the reward structure, and type of reward available after the unlocking period (e.g., continuous vs. lump sum).
Keywords: reward, goal, motivation, persistence,
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