Offering various consumer options may not be a good strategy. Have you ever been in doubt which shampoo to choose. See the options that a renowned brand offers on the supermarket shelves: restoration, hydro-cauterization, fall control, hydration, extreme smooth, defined curls, strength and reconstruction, hydra-vitamin curd, extreme shine, rejuvenating repair, smooth and silky. Easy to choose? Not necessarily! Anxious decision? Very likely!…
Barry Schwartz addresses in detail the question of the choices we make in his 2004 book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. Barry says that life is a matter of choice and in marketing every consumer likes to make good choices, so when it’s hard to choose, the consumer can give up the purchase or, if he buy it, regret the choice afterwards. An interesting fact that he points out is that adding options will increase the expectations that people have about how good those options will be, and what this will produce is less satisfaction with the results even when they are good. Barry points out that, without a doubt, some choice is better than none, but that does not mean that many choices are better than few choices. There are a magic number of options, but he acknowledges not knowing, and states that long ago we moved from the point where the options have increased our well-being.
Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman, in their article To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple, report an interesting study by CEB (Corporate Executive Board) over a period of three months through of pre and post-purchase surveys of more than 7,000 consumers in the US, UK and Australia, covering a wide range of ages, income levels and ethnicities. The study found that the biggest driver of consumer adherence by far was “simplicity of decision,” that is, the ease with which consumers can collect reliable information about a product and weigh their purchase options safely and efficiently .
Another study entitled Leaving the store empty‐handed: Testing explanations for the too‐much‐choice effect using decision field theory, conducted by Ryan K. Jessup, Elizabeth S. Veinott, Peter M. Todd, Jerome R. Busemeyer, concludes that the consumer will avoid a purchase when the preferred option changes too often, demonstrating difficulty in their choice, or when the time the consumer has run out before he reaches a reasonable decision.
That’s why, from this Marketing perspective, less is more! What consumers want from marketers is simply the simplicity!