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A truism in the marketing literature, and among many marketing practitioners, is that requiring consumers to wait negatively impacts quality evaluations, purchase intentions and a range of other important outcomes. However, it is also true that consumer waiting or queuing has historically been considered from an operations perspective. The present research takes a different approach and examines waits in the context of their ability to function as a signal of quality. Four experiments demonstrate a required wait can indeed signal quality to consumers and increase, rather than decrease, both purchase intentions and actual experienced satisfaction. Three moderators of this effect are examined: preexisting knowledge, consumption motivations, and the extent to which quality is difficult to objectively determine. The results suggest in situations where quality is important, unknown or ambiguous, managers may increase consumer satisfaction by making consumers wait.


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© Springer. Final version published as: Giebelhausen, M. D., Robinson, S. G., & Cronin, J. J., Jr. (2011). Worth waiting for: Increasing satisfaction by making consumers wait. Journal of Academy of Marketing Science, 39(6), 889-905. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.