Consumer reactions to crowded retail settings: Cross-cultural differences between North America and the Middle East

Psychology & Marketing

Pons, Laroche, & Mourali


May 1, 2006


Most of the research dealing with consumer–consumer interactions emphasizes the negative consequences of sharing the service experience with other consumers. Crowding, in particular, represents one of the important environmental factors affecting consumers’ retail experience. However, recent studies in the context of hedonic services (e.g., amusement parks, concerts, etc.) have mentioned that crowds may potentially enhance consumers’ service experience. The present study aims at demonstrating the presence of these positive consumer responses in a crowded hedonic situation, while investigating the influence of cultural differences in crowd-related issues. With the use of consumers from different cultures (North America and the Middle East), reactions to similarly crowded situations in a hedonic situation are compared. Results suggest that Middle Eastern respondents perceive both a lower level of density and appreciate crowded situations more than their North American counterparts. Potential explanations are discussed.