Studying Your Customers

TRENTON, N.J. — If you look close enough, you can probably find a study on almost anything, including coin laundry customer behavior. This has been confirmed.Regina Kenen, an assistant professor of sociology at Trenton State College in New Jersey, actually published a study called “Soapsuds, Space, and Sociability: A Participant Observation of the Laundromat.”Kenen gathered her data at a San Francisco laundry that she used regularly.Some of her insights include:

  • The apparel customers wear is very informal.
  • Customers look for empty machines but don’t ordinarily look at individuals directly.
  • If the laundry is empty, and they have a choice, customers often leave an empty machine between theirs and other users.
  • Customers don’t interact much.

Kenen also observed behavior at a laundry in a poor, Hispanic neighborhood. There, she says, customers socialized more with each other. This influenced the study’s ultimate conclusion: “Laundromat behavior appears to be more influenced by the larger sociocultural context.”I bet some of you were just saying the same thing the other day. 


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