Pain of Waiting: Effects of Temporal Delays and Price Promotion on Product Pre-Ordering

Amaradri Mukherjee, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


Intertemporal choice is frequently a part of the consumer decision-making process. Similarly, sales promotions are also an integral part of consumer transactions. A growing promotional strategy used by retailers involves pre-selling a product before the product is available to consumers. These pre-orders have varying wait times before the product becomes physically available. Can these wait times change the likelihood that a consumer makes a purchase? Further, pre-ordering tends to use either a monetary discount or non-monetary incentive sales promotion. Will these promotional incentives influence the purchase behavior of a consumer?

This dissertation argues that temporal delays between payment and receiving a product, and specifically the pain associated with waiting, can have an undesirable effect on consumers’ decisions to make a purchase. Across three essays, I focus on how the temporal delay will monotonically and non-linearly impact a consumers’ purchase intention. I call this the intent shrinkage effect (Essay 1). I also test the moderating effect of various sales promotions such as monetary, non-monetary, and probabilistic offers on the pain of waiting (Essay 2). Finally, I test the moderating influence of consumer heterogeneity (Essay 3), such as need for touch, deal proneness, and temporal orientation on temporal delay and the subsequent influence on a consumers’ likelihood to pre-order a product. Across, eighteen experiments, using student and national adult samples, I find convergent evidence that increasing the temporal delay will deter individuals from choosing or purchasing a pre-order product. However, non-monetary sales promotions, such as free gifts, can reduce the pain of waiting and attenuate the negative effect of temporal delay on consumers’ purchase evaluations.