..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…
And that’s exactly my point. Wide variety of products can appeal to a particular kind of customer: a well-informed one. One who knows what he or she wants exactly.
In his book called “The Long Tail”, Wired editor Christopher Anderson argues that products that have a low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough.
Actually, it’s not an argument, it’s a fact, just have a look at the figures. Probably that’s why we have shops that specializing exclusively in leather gloves, import tea or pesticides – although I, myself don’t understand the need for them.
But it should be taken into account that the appeal of enormous amount of products depends on the context. For example, if you want to order a good bottle of wine at a reasonable price, you won’t get much help by visiting this website:
but you’re offered clear recommendations on the other:
Before deciding on the range of products you want to offer, you should consider answering the following question:
Is your typical customer just casual buyer or a savvy shopper, who isn’t ready for any kind of compromise?
I know, “Long tail” is the new “short tail”. But not-so-experienced customers still need guidance.
Let’s try this: If you have 1000 products, choose the ten most popular ones and try to market them. If you have 10, choose one. If you promote just that one more intensively, you’ll avoid a lot of confusion on your customers’ side, but you still give a chance for the experts to find exactly the product they need. Because that’s an important market segment as well.
In case you are not confused enough, I summarized my recommendations here:
- Showing too many products without any guidance can be paralyzing for your customer. That’s not a good idea. Even if you run a shop where you sell only 27-inch monitors, you’ll still come across customers who don’t have the faintest idea about it.
- Giving clear recommendations, product descriptions and distinctive looks to your product range is mandatory these days.
- Increase the complexity that consumers face gradually. If you have a chance, create only a few base products and let them customize it by adding or upgrading different parts. And don’t forget to set up smart defaults for your average customer.
- Are you launching an unusual, new product line where everybody is expected to be unfamiliar with? Limit their choices, don’t get them confused and don’t let them spend time on trying to select from a lot of unknown products.