- You can eat the M&Ms as quickly or slowly as you want
- ...at any interval ranging from five candies every 80 seconds to five candies every 100 seconds
- …and you must announce to me in advance what interval you select.
- Consumers in a second group chose from intervals that ranged between 10 seconds and 100 seconds instead of 80 to 100 seconds. More freedom.
- Consumers in a third group were instructed to eat five candies every 100 seconds. No freedom.
- Group 2 participants ate their candies twice as quickly as those in Group 3. Left to their own resources, consumers tend to gobble.
- Participants in Groups 1 and 3 enjoyed the last five candies about as much as the first five candies, but the Group 2 participants enjoyed the last set less than the first set. Gobbling results in decreasing enjoyment.
- Those in Group 2 who chose a longer interval enjoyed the candies more. Self-control of gobbling adds to enjoyment.
- Groups 1 and 2 reported higher rates of enjoyment of the experience than did Group 3. Consumers don’t like being told what to do, even if what they’re being told would lead to higher enjoyment of their consumption experience.
The lesson for retailers: Discourage shoppers from gobbling up their purchases. Encourage them to patiently enjoy the items. However, resist any temptation to be overly directive in your encouragement.
The consumer psychology concept here is “habituation.” Interruptions increase enjoyment. In another set of studies, University of California-San Diego, New York University, and Carnegie Mellon University researchers discovered that people give higher average ratings to TV programs when the programs include advertising breaks than when the programs don’t.
The nature of habituation is related to age. These researchers found that commercial breaks improved the enjoyment more for younger than for older people.
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