Do We Have “Too Much Choice”?
9 August 2019
Author: Jasmine Waters
Choice is something that the modern consumer has become extremely accustomed to. It’s not uncommon to walk into a shop and be faced with hundreds of different versions of a similar product – even online, the product list can seem never-ending. This level of choice now means retailers are faced with a new problem – consumers can feel so overwhelmed with the choice on offer, they will refrain from buying at all. So what can brands, and the retail industry itself, do to change this mentality?
Where do the problems start?
If we take the e-commerce giant Amazon as an example, in theory, what they offer is meant to serve our growing consumer needs as best as possible. Their strategy has prompted near-endless identical products options, as well as prompting their global competitors to adopt the same rate of output. What we’ve learnt from this is that having that variety isn’t always the most valuable, with the industry’s output in the US increasing by almost 75% since 2007, now sitting at a hefty $35 trillion. With this has come a type of ‘consumer anxiety’, with research consistently showing that those consumers with fewer choice options are more likely to make better informed purchasing decisions. The strongest brands are the ones that can make the best balance – maintaining a type of ‘extreme curation’ that stays closely to what they understand their consumers truly want.
What ways can brands help?
There are a variety of ways to try and help consumers navigate the product minefield, with varying levels of success. Many brands tend to opt for buzzword selling points, using these as a key marker to sell an assortment of products targeted straight to their ‘ideal customer’. Others may try to go down a more analytical route, using consumer data and algorithms to help attain the perfect product match. Interestingly, some brands such as Glossier are offering their consumer base freedom from any choice at all, selling few products, at a mid-range price point, and selling them with complete conviction.
Regardless of the route brands may choose to take to avoid these bumps in the road (if they do at all), there is no solution at will be 100% effective in giving the consumers the ‘space’ they seem to want and need. There may be no full way to opt out by buying into the ‘right’ product, but selection, stock and presentation can all be managed to ensure both roles in the consumer and brand partnership remain as happy as they can.