Activity apprehension in experiential purchases

Chadwick J. Miller, Adriana Samper, Naomi Mandel, Daniel C. Brannon, Jim Salas, Martha Troncoza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine how the number of activities within a multi-activity experience influences consumer preferences before and after consumption. Design/methodology/approach: The hypotheses are tested using four experiments and a secondary data set from a river cruise firm that includes first-time river cruise purchases by consumers from this firm between January 2011 and December 2015 (n = 337,457). Findings: Consumers prefer experiences with fewer (vs more) activities before consumption – a phenomenon, this paper calls “activity apprehension” – but prefer experiences with more (vs fewer) activities after consumption. A mediation analysis indicates that this phenomenon occurs because the highly perishable nature of activities makes consumers uncertain about their ability to use all the activities within the experience (usage uncertainty). Practical implications: Evaluations of a multi-activity experience depend on both the number of activities and on whether the consumer is at the pre- or post-consumption stage of the customer journey. As such, firms looking to sell multi-activity experiences should design and promote these experiences in a way that minimizes activity apprehension. Originality/value: This study is the first to demonstrate that consumer perceptions of an optimal experience depend on both the number of included activities and on the stage of the customer journey (i.e. pre- or post-purchase). It further contributes to the consumer experience literature by examining an unexplored activity characteristic, perishability, in shaping experiential purchase decisions. Finally, it demonstrates a new way in which experiential purchases differ from tangible product purchases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-534
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Services Marketing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Activities
  • Attributes
  • Customer experience
  • Experiences
  • Experimental design
  • Perishability
  • Service design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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