Friday, April 16, 2010

want to sell more stuff? offer fewer choices

A book review in today's Wall Street Journal confirms what parents of toddlers already know: humans often fare better if presented with fewer options, not more. In "Art of Choosing" Columbia Business School professor Sheena Iyengar discusses research that suggests arranged marriages are, ironically, often more loving than love marriages; children play more enthusiastically when forced to choose only one toy from an array of many; and--here's where it gets interesting for marketing types--the more varieties of a product there are on the shelf, the less apt shoppers are to commit to a decision to buy it. Better pull the plug on those line extensions.


The Coolest Cool said...

Solid post - Concise and to the point. A lot of companies forget this the bigger they get and feel as if they need to broaden their product lines to expand. When in fact, studies show that while this increases the revenue for the business - Its profit margin barely move.

Howie at Sky Pulse Media said...

Very interesting stuff.

I can just imagine what Lets Make a Deal would of been like with more choices. You can choose behind Curtains 1 or 2, under the Box, in the other room, whats in the envelope, or what is hidden under my hat.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Thanks for the read and the comment @The Coolest Cool. Good point about revenue vs. profit margin. Does seem like companies lose sight of that.

Ha @Howie. You're right. If Lets Make a Deal had been Scavenger Hunt, it would have been off the air fast as you can say Monty Hall :)

Tom said...

So much for 57 varieties!

California Girl said...

I think this every time I go to the grocery, a trip I dread. The hunt for what I need fatigues me. Seriously. I mourn the lack of a small grocer with just the basics and a butcher behind the counter who'll wrap my choices in white paper. I really do.

Good to hear there's research about this very thing because I totally believe it.

Kym said...

I believe in this as well...when I end up at the largest grocery /department store, I feel overwhelmed at what it displayed in front of me....nice post!

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

@Tom Ha :)

@California Girl Sadly, don't think all the research in the world will bring back Butcher, Grocer and Candlestick Maker. I miss them too! And paper packages tied up with string (one of my favorite things) made me feel like I was toting prezzies instead of groceries.

@Kym I relate! Costco selection gives me brain freeze, too.

Anonymous said...

Exactly! This is what I observed in McDonald. They're simplifying the options, thereby making customers order fast, and remembering more the products that a store, McDonalds in this instance, offers.

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