A supermarket jam tasting display was set up as part of a study on choice conducted by Columbia professor Sheena Iyengar . When 24 different jam flavors were displayed 60% of the customers stopped to taste it but only 3% actually bought some. Whereas when the display was limited to 6 flavors, 40% of the customers tasted it and 30% of those bought some; that is 10 times the people actually bought when they were offered less choice!
Conclusion: People think they want more choice, but they really need less.
The book Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, by Robert B Cialdini and co-authors, describes this study and also points out to similar results when employees are given too many options when it comes to retirement plans. For every ten additional funds a company offers its employees, the participation rate drops almost 2 percent. The decision making process becomes too much of a burden when people have to compare between too many options and they simply choose not to make a decision.
This doesn’t apply when people are looking for something specific and know exactly what they want. An avid mountain biker might be shopping for a 21-speed 26-inch all-terrain bike featuring a lightweight alloy frame, front and back suspension, hydraulic disc brakes and 26-inch tires, and won’t be confused by the hundreds of other options.
One of my clients, Darryl Abrahms of PalmFlex.com was in a dilemma. He’s in the work glove business and his customers range from the corporate buyer who is looking for very specialized task specific gloves to individuals who want a glove that simply protects their hands while gardening or doing some home improvement. He solves this by providing an extensive range but offering great customer service to help the layman chose the right glove.
When people can’t make a decision because they just have too many choices then they make no decision at all. To avoid this scenario I worked with Paul Mazzella, owner of Eastpointe Health & Fitness, to simplify his gym membership options. From a mind boggling 15 different alternatives, we cut them down to one simple month-to-month rate and just a handful of additional choices. I’m excited to see how promoting this no-brainer no commitment option will impact membership sales – will keep you posted.
So, how do you view product options, would you prefer more or less?Photo Credit: kkfea