Why more choice means less sales

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Choice is a good thing? More choice = more sales, right? Wrong!

Numerous studies have shown that in many instances, too much choice hampers sales. It can lead to dissatisfaction with the buying process, lack of action at the point of purchase and post choice regret. With a limited capacity for processing information, us humans are not geared up to take in all of the choices we are offered. Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg limits his exposure to choice in his everyday routine to allow him to concentrate on the more important things in life. For example, he has two shades of t-shirts in his wardrobe, eats virtually the same food for lunch every day and does the same routine each time he exercises.

Supermarkets know and appreciate consumers’ tendency to take the easy road, their preference for more simplistic decisions. They help their shoppers make the choices they want by placing products on certain levels at check outs. Some supermarkets go as far as to place smaller tiles on certain isles, this makes the wheels click faster forcing the shopper to slow down. This makes shoppers more likely to make a choice from that isle which will normally contain the more expensive, profitable items.

Choices can paralyse us. Often it is easier not to make a choice then to spend ages choosing and then worrying that you have made the wrong one.

Gender can also affect choice, the old age “women buy and men shop” is borne out by the amount of time men spend shopping. Research has shown that men are more likely to purchase if clothes are grouped by size as opposed to style, this makes the shopping experience simpler by instantly limiting the number of choices that needs to made and eliminating the element of browsing.

This research has also come to ahead within the charity fundraising sector. When men are offered a choice of donation prompts and values they are less likely to donate, whereas women are happier to be given the choice.

So how should we approach choice, how do we get customers to make the right choice or the choice in which we want them to make?

  1. With digital platforms providing organisations with vast amounts of data, we can now harness this information using segmentation, categorising customers into meaningful groups based on their consumer behaviour. Amazon is already doing this really effectively; offering different target audiences the choice of around 4 or 5 products based on what they’ve previously browsed, bought or are likely to buy.
  1. Hit them more often with fewer choices.
  1. Cutting the content is another way in which to get customers to make the choice you want. Certain restaurants have a sommeliers choice of maybe 5 red and 5 white wines from the hundreds of options on the wine list. This often has the result of selling a more expensive bottle to the diner.
  1. The order in which you reveal different choices to your customers is another significant factor that plays a part in their buying behaviour. A well-known German car manufacturer gave customers the option to design their own custom car by offering a total of 60 decisions from car colour to gearshift. Each decision had a different number of choices, for example there were 56 choices of car colours and 4 choices of gearshifts. A study was done to determine how the order in which these decisions were given affected the engagement levels of the customers, i.e. how often they make the choice as opposed to choosing the default or stopping the process. Half of customers were given the high choice decisions first and worked down towards the low choice decisions and the other half were given the reverse. Although the information displayed and the number of decisions that needed to be made were the same, the order had a huge impact. The analysis showed that those given the high to low choice decisions were less engaged and less motivated to complete the process than those given the low to high choice decisions. By easing the customers into the decision process they were less likely to feel overloaded with information and more likely to get excited about the product they were building.

Implementing the logic behind these three examples will compel your customers to make the choices you want whilst maintaining customer satisfaction and enthusiasm for your products and services.

So to conclude, more choice means less sales; slimline your offerings to reap results.