Twenty-two. That's how many months it has been since customers could start lining up for the Tesla Model 3. In our instant world where most people won't even line up for 22 seconds, there's something special about Tesla depositors' willingness to wait--even as delivery dates get further from reach. Beyond its promise to deliver a good product, Tesla has set up the right conditions to get people to wait out the Model 3. Here are three specific methods in play, and why they work according to science.
1. Create a bonding ritual.
Some reports call Model 3 the family car of the future. Studies on queuing behavior have found that when people wait in line alone, they are more anxious than when they wait with others. When it comes to family, standing in line can even create cherished bonding rituals or traditions, according to the president of The Society for Consumer Psychology. It's something exciting yet not completely predictable that the family is looking forward to together.
If you're going to make people wait for your product or service, help them find a friend to keep them company. Not only will they be more willing to wait, but they might even enjoy the experience.
2. Make the wait well-known.
Soon after Tesla first opened up reservations for its Model 3 in May, 2016, it reported that 373,000 reservations had been made. Early this year in July, the company updated this number ot half a million. Those in line or those who may be considering it are fully aware that they are not alone--and this is not a bad thing. According to an MIT professor who studies line behavior, people's willingness to wait in line is somewhat proportional to the perceived value of what awaits at the end of the line. When people see a line--even if they don't know what it's for--they decide that it must be valuable and worth waiting for. This is much like seeing a line out the door of a brunch spot; you know it must be good.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, share the size of your waitlist openly. Chances are it will encourage, not detract, people from signing up.
3. Celebrate scarcity
Due to production bottlenecks, Tesla has reported being 3 months behind on its target weekly production rate of 5000. As of early November, the company reported that some of its manufacturing plants had achieved a rate of close to 1000. With 500,000 people on the waitlist, this rate obviously needs to increase. But the scarcity isn't necessarily pushing everyone away. Early depositors reported to Bloomberg in November that they aren't going anywhere. Meanwhile, others are benefiting from the scarcity by selling their reservations for quadruple the cost of their initial deposit. Scarcity can drive up demand.
Be honest about your production lines. If this means a slower rate than you anticipated or hoped for, it's best to admit it. It will likely drive demand for your product or service.
While it's ideal to eventually achieve an equilibrium where you are able to meet the demands of your customers in a timely fashion, good business and design takes time. And people who are paying for a product or service appreciate quality above anything else. Don't be afraid to ask people to wait. Good things come to those who wait--and to businesses who make them wait in the right way.