RSS FEED Subscribe in iTunes Main Topic: Waiting in Lines (A Hate/Love Relationship)

Hosts: Stephen Huang , James Stanworth , Clyde Warden

"First come, first served" is very common and widely accepted in Western countries, but not always in mainland China.

For service marketers, first come first served may be a good policy to avoid the service failure from the perspective of customers who stand or wait in line to get their service. It relates to a critical issue of "procedural justice" when customer do attribute their treatment by the service provider, in marketing practice and theory.

Standing in a line in a retail setting in Taiwan is quite new, just 20 years back since McDonald's entered the market. That has been an education for Chinese consumers in Taiwan.

Silent word of mouth is a Me-too psychology where Chinese consumers do not like to fall far behind their peers. The results are powerful for retailers who are able to take advantage of it. Doing so, however, is not easy, as Clyde says, "You need a line to get a line in a Chinese setting."

Fads tend to influence long lines at retailers, from egg tarts (Dan Ta) to doughnuts. Any product is possible to catch on and lead to long lines, but food seems to be most common.

When people stand in long cues to purchase a product, it is a silent word of mouth.

The Show:

Length: 47 minutes. Download MP3 21.96B (Right click->Save As).


Consumer Cam ConsumerCam:

Vid. 1) Sausage stand.
Vid. 2) Post office.
Vid. 3) New lunch shop.
Vid. 4) Costco, on a Monday night, not very busy, yet still lines for samples.
Vid. 5) Dorayakie fad hit Taiwan, and lines soon generated long lines. Some of the stores have no lines at all, but when a store does have a line, people see it, pull over, and jump into line.
Vid. 6) Example from the Japanese cartoon Our Family (Their Mom gets in line many times to get free samples).

Show Links:

Bottom Line:

  • Stand in line in an orderly fashion and wait for your term is a normality and acceptable practice in the west.
  • In Taiwan it is not a part of tradition to wait in line; if there’s space, people will take advantage and cut in line.
  • People have been educated by the government in the past 5 years to take a number card and wait to be helped. I.e. Post office, Hospitals, Government departments, Train stations.
  • In the late 1980’s McDonalds introduced the lining system to local consumers.
  • Through trial and errors the government found the number card worked best, they also provide seating areas for consumers while they wait.
  • Chinese people are curious and don’t mind standing in long cues to try out a new product.
  • When the media gets involved with the product phenomena, it increases the exposure.
  • If the product is perceived with value in the eyes of the consumer, it will spiral up even more.
  • Line triggers lines; it’s the silent word of mouth with a group psychology and a proxy for quality.
Category: Podcasts

Login Form

Create a new account or use your GMail credentials to sign in.