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guitar-choice sounds of music darwinHumans have been engineered through evolution to HATE having to THINK.

So when you spoil your customers or clients for choice, you are really RIPPING money OUT of your business.

For a number of years now, I have been talking about the ‘paradox of choice’ in my various marketing workshops.

That topic also happens to be the title of an excellent book by Barry Schwartz. I’ll insert his TED talk below.

The paradox of choice is that more choice is actually bad, and bad on two fronts:

  • Firstly, too much choice might paralyse customers or clients into inaction, for fear of making the wrong choice
  • Secondly, after choosing from a large number of options the likelihood of feeling dissatisfied goes through the roof

Stop making options

Over drinks with a researcher in cognitive psychology, I heard about a recent study that really hammers home the high cost of offering the marketplace too much choice.

In the study, a supermarket agreed to let researchers conduct a jam sampling over two consecutive days and get access to the sales data for those days.

On day one, the team offered shoppers six varieties of jam to sample.

Tracking sales of the six varieties, the results were healthy and positive; there was a definite boost from the sampling.

On day two, the team offered shoppers 24 varieties of jam to sample.

The result at the till was dismal, with sales of those jams plummeting that day.

But more choice should equal freedom and happiness

The paradox is that more choice paralyses thought, it does not lead to happiness or freedom.

This is because the human brain devours a LOT of energy, so evolution has rewarded us for relying on habit and EASY decisions.

As my cognitive psychology friend pointed out, our ancestors would return to a place each year where they would expect a certain bounty of a particular fruit or food.

If they returned and there was none, it would cause deep anxiety and sense of loss.

We are still wired that way.

So the question this week is, are the options you’re offering your marketplace costing you sales?

Perhaps it would be a good thing to work through the options you offer and see if each variation of product and service is justified; really justified.

NOTE: Ironically, now this website will give you the choice for sharing this article via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Pinterest. Perhaps just share through all of them, to keep it simple 🙂

PS Here is the Barry Schwartz TED talk, well worth a viewing.

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