While online retailers may offer cheaper prices for shoppers, brick-and-mortar businesses can provide something they can't: instant gratification.
A new study from the Columbia Business School warns that the positive feelings consumers experience when receiving a discounted price fades dramatically if the consumer is then forced to wait for the product.
Columbia Business School's Leonard Lee said this might spell trouble for online retailers that offer discounted items and then force consumers to wait for the product. He said their research shows that even if the wait is relatively short — as little as 15 minutes — the consumer's enjoyment of the product decreases dramatically.
"Keeping in mind that instant gratification has become a hallmark of society, brick-and-mortar businesses can add value to their bottom lines by offering in-store promotions on the products they know people want to experience immediately rather than waiting for delivery," Lee said. "This is a key competitive advantage they could have over online retailers and one that might secure their long-term survival in an expanding online marketplace."
As part of the study, Lee, along with Rotman School of Management's associate professor of marketing Claire Tsai, conducted four experiments across a variety of products to explore the consumer's relationship between consumption and enjoyment. They found that the shopping high one feels for a product after they have received a discount only happens when the product is consumed immediately after it is paid for.
In one experiment, researchers had participants purchase orange juice, half of whom received a 50 percent discount. Then, half of the participants — regardless of whether they received a discount or not — drank the juice as soon as it was paid for, while the other half waited 15 minutes to consume the juice.
The researchers found that when participants who had received a discount consumed the juice immediately, the experience was significantly amplified. However, when participants who had received a discount were forced to wait 15 minutes or longer, reviews of the juice were far less favorable. Additionally, when asked if they would purchase the juice in the future, those who waited said they would be less likely to buy it again.
Similar discoveries occurred when consumers were shopping for music in a separate experiment. Researchers found that consumers who had to wait to download their discounted music enjoyed the music less than those who were able to download the music immediately.
Lee and Tsai said if you consider the consumer relationship from a long-term standpoint, in terms of customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, brick-and-mortar marketers might want to pay more attention to the instant gratification factor because this is something no online retailer can provide at this time.
The study, "How Price Promotions Influence Post-Purchase Consumption Experience Over Time," was recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.