This is part one of a two-part article. The title of the second one is “Why too many choices are good for you”.
One of the most famous psychology experiment happened almost ten years ago in a British supermarket.
Sheena Iyengar and her colleagues set up a small tasting booth, where they either offered 6 or 24 different kinds of jam. What they first found is that only 40% of the people stepped to the booth when there were only 6 jars of jam on the table, compared to the 60% result in the other case.
Now, here comes the surprising fact: only 3% of the customers who “dropped by” to taste the 24 different kinds of jam actually bought something, compared to the astonishing 30% who were offered the less amount of choices.
That’s a ten time increase produced only by limiting the options presented to the customer.
Imagine the scenario where you want to buy a 27- inch monitor, because you had enough of the old, giant-size CRT display that you have now.
You visit your favorite electronic store (virtually, of course) and finally count up exactly 1117 monitors that you can choose from.
It’s not an easy job to choose the “one”, probably, it will take you a long night at least.
How do you feel about that? Are you engaged? Do you think you can really, objectively select the best one for your budget without spending enormous amount of time on it?
Will you be satisfied with your choice, or right after unpacking your new display, you’ll immediately start to think “ohh, that LG monitor looked so much better, why exactly did I choose this one?”.
Keeping the choices down to minimal can be part of a branding strategy.
Let’s compare Apple to HTC. HTC rolls out a new phone every other month, there’s nothing to wait for, basically you’re flooded with information.
And what does Apple do? They release a new version of the same phone every year.
Do you really want to research the internet for a week to be able to make up your mind which HTC smarthpone is right for you from the 12 slightly-different ones?
And although this question is quite manipulative, the answer can be easily “YES!”, if you ask the right person.
The work of Sheena Iyengar and her collegaues was criticized a lot in the recent years, although these articles didn’t attract the kind of publicity that the original research gained.
Okay, now you’ll start thinking that I’m gonna contradict myself at the end of the article - but you are wrong.
I will do it in my next blog post!