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Mental accounting and small windfalls: Evidence from an online grocer

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  • Milkman, Katherine L.
  • Beshears, John

Abstract

We study the effect of small windfalls on consumer spending decisions by comparing the purchases online grocery customers make when redeeming $10-off coupons with the purchases they make without coupons. Controlling for customer fixed effects and other variables, we find that grocery spending increases by $1.59 when a $10-off coupon is redeemed. The extra spending associated with coupon redemption is focused on groceries that a customer does not typically buy. These results are consistent with the theory of mental accounting but are not consistent with the standard permanent income or lifecycle theory of consumption. While the hypotheses we test are motivated by mental accounting, we also discuss some alternative psychological explanations for our findings.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 71 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 384-394

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:2:p:384-394

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Mental accounting Windfalls Marginal propensity to consume Coupons;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Abeler, Johannes & Marklein, Felix, 2008. "Fungibility, Labels, and Consumption," IZA Discussion Papers 3500, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Katherine Milkman & Todd Rogers & Max Bazerman, 2010. "I’ll have the ice cream soon and the vegetables later: A study of online grocery purchases and order lead time," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 17-35, March.
  3. Thomas Crossley & Hamish Low & Sarah Smith, 2011. "Do consumers gamble to convexify?," IFS Working Papers W11/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  4. Luc Christiaensen & Lei Pan, 2010. "Transfers and Development: Easy Come, Easy Go?," Working Paper Series wp2010-125, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  5. Christiaensen , Luc & Pan, Lei, 2012. "On the fungibility of spending and earnings -- evidence from rural China and Tanzania," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6298, The World Bank.
  6. Kaustia, Markku & Rantapuska, Elias, 2012. "Rational and behavioral motives to trade: Evidence from reinvestment of dividends and tender offer proceeds," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 2366-2378.

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