Researchers provided participants with a gift certificate to a local French pastry shop. Each certificate had either a short (three weeks) or a long (two months) expiration date. While participants with the shorter timeframe predicted a lower chance of redemption, researchers found that their actual redemption rate was 5x greater than those given more time to redeem their gift.
We tend to associate procrastination with adverse activities. From starting a retirement plan to improving our diet, we can be optimistic in predicting the cost of the delay and our free time in the future. In this paper, the researchers theorize that these same behaviors can impact enjoyable experiences, as well.
When guiding customers towards a particular action, such as redeeming a coupon or gift card, experiment with shorter deadlines to minimize the likelihood of procrastination and eventual regret. Be sure to measure actual campaign performance instead of merely tracking your customers’ future intentions to act. They just might surprise you.
Shu, Suzanne & Gneezy, Ayelet. (2009). Procrastination of Enjoyable Experiences. Journal of Marketing Research. 47. 10.2307/20751554.