13 February 2020 | 14 Comments
Does your paycheck impact your spending habits?
This is a question I posed to researcher Jun Yang a few months ago. Jun and her coauthors have been studying millions of data points from Kickstarter as they prepare a paper focusing on some statistical anomalies. Jun works at Indiana University, but she’s visiting Washington University in St. Louis this semester, so we’ve been chatting about Kickstarter, creators, and backers.
Back in my Kickstarter days I had some discussions about the “payday effect,” the idea that people feel wealthier than normal–and are more likely to spend money–on days when they receive their paycheck (or see it deposited in their bank account). I theorized this might apply to Kickstarter backers, and I asked Jun if we could look at her data.
The results were even more pronounced than I thought. Let’s start with the first chart, which shows the day of the month that projects launched across all categories. The vertical orange bars show the total number of projects, and the grey trendline shows the success rate.
The biggest data point that stands out to me here is the success rate of projects launched on the first of the month (the day when many people get paid) compared to other days. Launch day in general is critical to a Kickstarter project’s success, so it would seem that you want to select a launch day when people are the most psychologically eager to spend money (even though the funds aren’t actually charged to them until the end of the project).
The second chart is a little weirder. The data shown here is the same as the previous chart, except that the trendline is the pledge ratio (how much a project overfunds). While the first of the month is still one of the best days, there’s also a big spike on projects launched in the middle of the month, particularly the 19th. It’s possible this data is more related to the funding goals selected by backers than to the launch day.
As with my other observations and advice about timing, I think it’s best for each creator to pick the launch day that works best for their particular project and audience. But if you’re debating between a few days near the end/beginning of the month, the payday effect seems to indicate that the 1st of the month is the best day to launch.
What do you think?
Thanks to Jun Yang, Jinglin Jiang, Li Liao, Regan Stevenson, and Zhengwei Wang of Indiana University and Tsinghua University for working on this paper (“Round Funding Period Heuristics and Kickstarter Campaign Success) and for sharing the results! I look forward to posting more data like this in the future.
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