How much choice do consumers want?

It’s standard practice to give consumers plenty of choice. Choice of products. Choice of offers. Choice of configurations, options, avenues of response, and more.

But in a world where everyone is offering so many choices, could fewer choices give you a competitive edge?

In a recent article about consumer choice, eMarketer asks analysts whether consumers want more or less choice. The answers come in many flavors, but the takeaway seems to be that choice comes with a cost.

In my direct marketing experience, less choice often works better than more choice. The fewer decisions you ask people to make, the more likely they are to actually make a decision. And I can tell you from personal experience that I don’t like too many choices when making buying decisions. Whether it’s picking out a box of cereal at the local mega food mart, selecting software, or buying clothes, less choice is better. Otherwise analysis paralysis can set it.

On the other hand, I like lots of choices for finding these and other items. I like the fact that there are hundreds or thousands of companies and products competing for my business because that increases the chances that I’ll find what I want. But when I come to the moment of truth, I like the choices to narrow dramatically so that I have what appears to be one clear choice.

What do you think about this? Is more choice or less choice better? Does it depend on the circumstances? How does this apply to direct marketing and advertising? Share your thoughts on this.

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One Response to “How much choice do consumers want?”

  1. Bobby Firestone on March 26th, 2008 2:21 pm

    It really does depend on the company and it’s direction. Look at Apple’s lines of computers. 3 laptop models & 3 desk top models. Compare to dell or HP or sony that have dozens of available configurations. Who has more brand evengalists? Apple. Why because they make it easy to buy a computer that will work for you.

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