The High Stakes of Sweepstakes: Too Much of a Good Thing Can Demotivate Digital Consumers

Caroline Wilcox

University of Rhode Island

Arch G. Woodside

Boston College

Management slant

  • In preference-matching contexts—specifically, where people enter hoping to find some particular product or service they already know themselves to prefer—more choices should increase the likelihood that they will be successful in their search.
  • Increasing the number of choices, however, actually increases the cognitive workload of consumers, and they may decide, consciously or unconsciously, simply to apply heuristics—such as clicking the delete button on complex e-mails.
  • Among respondents, the share opening a hyperlink was greater for the control versus two-deal treatment group.
  • The sweepstakes offer, however, mitigated the negative impact on consumer behavioral responses of offering many versus some direct-sales offers. The extremely positive impact of the sweepstakes on behavioral responses included opening, the number of pages viewed, and the time spent in the guide.
  • Consequently, the authors found that "it depends on what is offered in conjunction with the direct-sales offers" may be the more accurate perspective than the "less-is-more" proposition.