The Effect of Various Waiting Line Times and Regret Levels on Individual Consumption Time

Clare Comm, Babson College, Wellesley, MA
Albert D. Palachek, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
ABSTRACT - This study reports on the amount of individual consumption time spent in waiting lines. In particular, the investigation focused on the effects of various lengths of waiting times on individuals' regret time levels in grocery store waiting lines.
[ to cite ]:
Clare Comm and Albert D. Palachek (1984) ,"The Effect of Various Waiting Line Times and Regret Levels on Individual Consumption Time", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 11, eds. Thomas C. Kinnear, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 41-45.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 11, 1984      Pages 41-45

THE EFFECT OF VARIOUS WAITING LINE TIMES AND REGRET LEVELS ON INDIVIDUAL CONSUMPTION TIME

Clare Comm, Babson College, Wellesley, MA

Albert D. Palachek, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

ABSTRACT -

This study reports on the amount of individual consumption time spent in waiting lines. In particular, the investigation focused on the effects of various lengths of waiting times on individuals' regret time levels in grocery store waiting lines.

INTRODUCTION

A review of the time literature m marketing indicates that research in this area has received very little attention (Jacoby, Szybillo, Berning 1976). Research has shown that, in the purchasing situation, the primary purchase cost to the consumer is expenditure of money while time is seen as the secondary purchase cost (Bender 1964). Similarly, Graham (1981) equated time with money in his Linear-Separable Model of time.

Recent research conducted relating to consumption time has been in the area of decision time by Peter Wright (1974). Wright, in his attempt to understand the importance of time in the consumption process, found that when the consumer's decision time is perceived as being very brief, he/she will tend to weight negative reasons more heavily than positive reasons in deciding whether to purchase. Also, Mattson (1982) and Hornik (1982) found that situational factors such as time pressure influence consumer behavior. For example, consumers are less likely to visit department stores for first or subsequent visits when they are time-pressured than when not time-pressured (Mattson 1982). Further, research by Jacoby, Szybillo, and Berning (1976) indicates consumption time is the consumer's expenditure of time for shopping and consumption behavior. It involves all consumer activity from identifying information sources to aid in decision making to actual purchase of and disposal of the item. Similarly, Feldman and Hornik (1981) posit that the consumption of time involves the choice of activities carried out through time, and involves the direct or indirect use of money and space resources to fulfill a variety of functions for the individual. For present purposes, consumption time is limited to the time spent in the actual shopping situation, particularly the time spent waiting in line to purchase products.

The study investigates consumption time when waiting in line; specifically the negative aspects associated with consumption time. To describe what is viewed as negative, wasted or unproductive consumption time spent in waiting lines, the term "regret time" is used. This allows the exploration to determine if an individual who does have "regret time" would alter his/her behavior (in the shopping situation) to reduce "regret time" and, if so, how this individual would alter his/her behavior. Thus, the hypothesis tested is:

For individuals exhibiting different regret levels (ranging from high to low):

A. Individuals with high regret levels will spend less time in grocery store waiting lines and thus alter their shopping behavior* by buying fewer groceries and spending less time shopping in the grocery store.

B. Individuals with low regret levels will spend more time in grocery store waiting lines and thus not alter their shopping behavior.

*Altering shopping behavior might also include: switching grocery stores in the future, leaving the grocery store and returning at another time.

METHODOLOGY

The data in this study were collected during June and July, 1982 from a questionnaire administered to a convenience sample of 248 subjects in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. To measure individuals' levels of regret time, a Regret Scale was developed. The first step in the development of this scale was to create a pool of items containing statements pertaining to individual feelings about time spent in waiting lines. A statement such as "I feel that waiting in a supermarket, movie theater, expressway line, etc., is a waste of my time" is typical of items which comprised the pool. A 5-point Likert Scale ("Strongly agree to Strongly disagree") was used to measure the response on each of these thirty-four statements. Further, three pretests were conducted on various occasions using the Regret Scale. Respective coefficient alphas calculated for the scale on each occasion were .7308, .7558, and .8356. These reliability coefficients indicate that the Regret Scale is internally consistent (see Appendix).

An experimental slide presentation depicting three waiting times in a grocery store was also used. One-third of the 248 subjects was asked to respond to statements while viewing a slide of individuals experiencing long waiting lines in a grocery store, one-third viewed slides of individuals experiencing medium waiting times and the remaining one-third viewed slides of individuals experiencing short waiting times.

To test the null hypothesis of no statistically significant relationship among individuals with high versus low regret levels spending less time in grocery store waiting lines and altering their shopping behavior, an ANOVA procedure was used with time treatment and regret level as factors. The dependent variable was a measure of shopping behavior of the individual in the shopping waiting line. Shopping behavior was measured by a Shopping Scale. The questionnaire (Shopping Scale) was developed from the Regret Scale. Statements which related to individuals' shopping behavior in grocery store waiting lines were simply extracted from the Regret Scale. Eleven of these statements were found to be appropriate for long and medium waiting lines while nine of these statements were ascertained to be appropriate for short waiting lines. Regarding reliability of the Shopping Scale, the respective alpha coefficients for the two shopping scales were .8505 (long and medium time treatment) and .7704 (short tine treatment) indicating a high degree of internal consistencY within the respective Shopping Scales.

FINDINGS

The results of this study indicate that the individual's regret level and the amount of time he/she spends waiting in line affect his/her shopping behavior. When analyzing the effect of all three regret levels (high, medium, and low) on an individual's shopping behavior, there is a significant relationship, as seen in Table 1.

TABLE 1

ANALYSIS OF VARIANCE

SHOP BY TIME TREATMENT AND REGRET LEVELS

TABLE 2

ALTERATION OF SHOPPING BEHAVIOR

A logical next question would be: How will the individuals exhibiting high regret levels change their shopping behavior when exposed to the long time treatment? The findings as seen in Table 2 showed that they would buy fewer groceries at the present, switch grocery stores in the future, and shop at off-peak hours. However, these same individuals also indicated that they would not switch grocery stores in the future if they were given a reasonable discount on their groceries or anticipated the long wait before entering the store. Further, these individuals with high regret levels said that such long waiting line times would not encourage them to buy more groceries. As expected, individuals exhibiting low regret levels when exposed to the-long time treatment did not alter their shopping behavior by employing any different tactics than they said they would in medium or short waiting lines.

CONCLUSION

The data suggest that individual regret levels affect shopping behavior for those individuals in long waiting lines. However, the regret levels of individuals in medium and short waiting lines have no significant impact on shopping behavior. In particular, it appears that individuals with high regret levels in long waiting lines will alter their shopping behavior by switching stores in the future and shopping at off-peak hours. In contrast, individuals with low regret levels in long waiting lines will tend to stand in the grocery store waiting line and not alter their shopping behavior.

From a practical viewpoint, the results of the investigation provide the retailer with insights on the behavior patterns exhibited by customers with differing regret levels when confronted with varying "waiting line times."

APPENDIX

REGRET SCALE

PAGE 1

PAGE 2

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REFERENCES

Arndt, J. and Gronmo, S. (1977), "The Time Dimension of Shopping Behavior: Some Empirical Findings," Proceedings of the Association for Consumer Research Conference, 230-235.

Barry, Leonard (1979), "The Time Buying Consumer," Journal of Retailing, Winter.

Bender, Wesley C. (1964), "Consumer Purchase Costs - Do Retailers Recognize Them?," Journal of Retailing, Spring

Feldman, Laurence P. and Hornik, Jacob (1981), "The Use of Time: An Integrated Conceptual Model," Journal of Consumer Research, 4, 407-419.

Graham, Robert J. (1981), "The Role of Perception of Time in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, 4, 335-342.

Holbrook, Morris B. and Lehmann, Donald R. (1981), "Allocating Discretionary Time: Complementarity Among Activities," Journal of Consumer Research, 4, 395-406.

Hornik, Jacob (1982), "Situational Effects on the Consumption of Time," Journal of Marketing, 4, 44-55.

Jacoby, Jacob; Szybillo, George; and Berning, Carol Kohn (1976), "Time and Consumer Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Overview," Journal of Consumer Research, 4, 32-339.

Mattson, Bruce E. (1982), "Situational Influences on Store Choice," Journal of Retailing, 3, 46-58.

Schary, Phillip B. (1971), "Consumption and the Time Problem," Journal of Marketing, 2, 50-55.

Wright, Peter (1974), "The Harassed Decision Maker: Time Pressures, Distractions, and the Use of Evidence," Journal of Applied Psychology, 5, 555-561.

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