How consumers deal with missed discounts: Transaction decoupling, action orientation and inaction inertia

M. van Putten, M. Zeelenberg, E. van Dijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Attractive bonuses and large discounts are often successfully used to attract new customers and increase sales. However, from a marketing perspective these attractive opportunities might have a negative side effect, as they decrease subsequent sales to the consumers who missed them. In this review article we discuss how the inability to regulate the pain of missed opportunities might lead to this so-called inaction inertia effect. We argue that deficiencies in self-regulation may be explained on the basis of a combination of contextual and personality factors. We present literature on contextual factors that facilitate regulation (decoupling factors), and action orientation, an individual characteristic that enhances regulation. Finally, we discuss the practical implications of these results for the marketing and consumer behavior literature.
► Missing a very attractive opportunity decreases willingness to act on subsequent opportunities.
► This inaction inertia effect occurs when consumers cannot regulate missing a prior opportunity.
► We present contextual and dispositional factors that enable regulation of missed opportunities.
► We extend these findings to other negative influences of prior negative consumption experiences.
► Finally, the theoretical and practical implications of our findings are discussed.
Keywords: Inaction inertia, Transaction decoupling, Action orientation, Sunk cost fallacy, Self-regulation, Consumer psychology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-110
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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