Consumer reaction to crowding for extended service encounters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Purpose - Much of the research on crowding in a service context has focused on customer reaction to crowding in a retail setting. This paper seeks to examine the effect of consumer goals on consumers' reactions to crowding for extended service encounters. Design/methodology/approach -The authors used a 2 (Crowding: crowded or not crowded) × 2 (Goal: utilitarian or hedonic) × 2 (Service level: bad or good) factorial, between-subjects design to test hypotheses. Service level and tolerance for crowding were entered as control variables. A service encounter in a casual restaurant was used as the service setting in the study. Subjects were randomly assigned to a written scenario describing an experience in a restaurant. They were then shown a photograph depicting the interior of the restaurant. Findings - Consumption goal moderates the effect of perceived crowding on satisfaction. Significantly lower satisfaction ratings are associated with a crowded service environment when the primary consumption goal for the service experience is utilitarian, rather than hedonic, in nature. Furthermore, regardless of the consumption goal, crowding negatively impacts positive in-store behaviors (i.e. desire to spend more money and time at the restaurant). Research limitations/implications - The study was limited to one extended service setting. Future research across other extended service settings is needed establish the generalizability of the findings. Practical implications - The study has implications for the design of the service facility and the application of demand-shifting revenue management strategies. Originality/value - The paper extends the literature on shopping motivations to extended service settings by examining the effect of consumer goals on consumers' reactions to crowding, specifically consumer satisfaction with, and consumer behaviors within, the extended service encounter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-41
Number of pages11
JournalManaging Service Quality
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management


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