Choice Paradox

🤔 Did you know…

When it comes to choice, more options isn’t always more awesome. In fact, giving your potential buyers too many choices has serious consequences.

If you wanna avoid falling into the “more” trap… you’ll wanna keep reading.

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Imagine this…

You’re on a roadtrip when hunger strikes.

You rock up at the local take-out spot and you’re met with a menu you’ve never seen before.

There are burgers, hotdogs, fries, chicken sandwiches, chicken on the bone, pizza, hero subs, fish & chips, salads, tacos…the options go on forever.

As you scan the neverending menu you feel a sense of dread.

You look up at the server. Down at the menu. Up at the server again.

Do you want pizza? Or maybe pasta? Or what about a burger—you can’t go wrong with a burger, right?

You panic.

You pick.

You end up with pasta. It arrives. And you’re hit with instant regret.

Why do you feel unhappy with your choice?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy 🧠, we’ll explore the Choice Paradox —why having too many choices can lead to fewer sales and fewer happy buyers.

Let’s get into it.

The Psychology of the Choice Paradox🧠

People often assume that more choices is a good thing, but research shows us that more isn’t always better.

In his famous TED talk, Barry Schwartz argues that while we have more choice than ever today, we’re not as happy as economists would have predicted.

Instead more choice leads to:

  • Effortful decision-making (not a good thing)
  • Feeling less satisfied with the decisions we make

Scientists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper found that too many choices made people less likely to buy a product.

In their famous Jam jar experiment, they found that people were more likely to buy a jar of jam when given six choices compared to twenty-four.

In a nutshell? When overwhelmed by choices, consumers are less likely to buy and even when they do, they’re less satisfied with their selection.

Inside Your Buyer’s Mind🧐

When it comes to making a purchase decision, your potential buyers must analyze multiple factors. That takes mental effort.

The more choice, the more mental effort it takes.

You can optimise the experience by making the choice easy. This doesn’t just mean offering fewer choices—it means making it easier for buyers to evaluate options and decide what’s right for them.

If you overwhelm people with too many choices… they may choose not to choose. That means you lose.

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?

Challenge leading brands with a clear offering

Products should stand by themselves. Each one should be distinctive, enough that it’s set apart from the rest of the products on offer.

Take a look at Harry’s for example, the shaving company has taken on titan brand Gillette with just two distinct razors on offer.

Harry’s doesn’t compete on their quantity of products. They got a foothold in the market based on quality, convenience, and price.


Help prospects choose the right product for them

Chances are you’ve spent hours laboring over every detail of your procuct. You’ve likely had heated internal battles about what features to include in each product and which ones to exclude.

Meanwhile prospective customers just want to choose a product and move on with their day. If you make it easy for them to do that, you’ll win more customers.

Canva is a great example. Canva uses plan language to explain the differences between their 3 subscription plans:

Embrace delegation
Retail & Hospitality

Limit the number of choices

Sometimes the answer to more sales isn’t more, it’s less. By doubling down on what works that way you reduce distraction and give more confidence to your customers.

Let’s go back to 1948. McDonalds shuts down for ‘alterations’ and reopens with a reduced menu. Just nine items.

As Steve Jobs famously said: “Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

Service Businesses

Offer done-for-you decision-making

With over 35,000 choices to make every day… people are tired. And where there’s pain and frustration, there’s opportunity.

Consider the complex world of online dating. Today’s singles have endless choice in potential mates. The (unsurprising) result? Couples who met via online dating apps are less happy than people who met offline.

Modern matchmaking services, like the Book of Love based in Atlantic Canada, are winning customers by doing the tedious choosing for them.

Embrace delegation

Ask yourself: do potential customers even want to choose? Maybe we can make them happier by choosing for them.

The Short of It 💥

Your potential buyers have a choice to make.

Giving them too many options can lead to fatigue and ultimately result in them walking away.

Remember: more choice isn’t always better.

Until next time, happy selling.

🐦 Your Brainy Tweetable

More isn’t always better.

Especially when it comes to choosing products.

Smart marketers know reducing (or even removing choices) often leads to MORE—more sales that is.

CC: @katebour

Tweet this now >



Wanna really get inside your buyer’s head?

When you’re ready, there are a few ways we can help:

Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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