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November 07, 2021

Does the "last-name effect" affect how you shop?

Looking to sell those double-booked tickets in a hurry? Why not try the Zoltan family?

AaAccording to a new study, your last name is a good indicator of how quckly you're likely to buy stuff. What could possibly explain this phenomenon, which the study authors dubbed "the last-name effect"?

Researcher Kurt A. Carlson believes this habit is linked to childhood and constant alphabetizing during school. Children with late-letter last names tended to wait longer for things, and therefore compensate later in life, he believes. 

“For years, simply because of your name, you've received inequitable treatment,” says Carlson, an assistant professor at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business. “So when you get to exercise control, you seize on opportunity. It's a coping strategy, and over time it becomes a natural way to respond.”

The last-name effect is especially important to retailers and salespeople because customer names are easy for marketers to obtain and because there are many times in which the decision is not whether to buy, but when to buy.

But is it inequality, or just impatience? Carlson carried out a series of experiments to test his hypothesis and found a person named Anthony would wait 25 per cent longer than a person named Zoltan to buy a hot-ticket item.

In one experiment, the research team randomly emailed participants from social networking sites offering them a chance to win four tickets to a championship basketball game.

Using email, the researchers found that people with last names starting with R-Z responded five minutes faster than those starting with A-I.

Make sense to you? Were you made to wait as kid? Are you inpulsive when it comes to how and what you buy?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...