Often when revenues start declining due to misfortunate business practices, a bad economy that slows consumer buying, or an increasingly competitive landscape the one thing marketers seem to lean on is the hope that developing new offerings and providing even more choice will save them.
Unfortunately (or fortunately for smart marketers), studies and books on buying behavior have make it abundantly clear that this inside-out, self-preservation mindset works against businesses and causes paralysis in customers more than it drives them to take action.
Ironically, the preference of having a lot of choice is what customers believe they want and need. If you are a customer-centric company (or trying to be), how can you balance the perceived wants and needs for variety with the psychological proof that “more is less?” It’s a responsible marketer that can practice customer advocacy and restraint.
strategy + business: A Better Choosing Experience
“…rather than helping consumers better satisfy their preferences, the explosion of choice has made it more difficult overall for people to identify what they want and how to get it. Thus, if the market for your product is saturated with choice, you can’t gain a competitive edge by dumping more choices into the mix. Instead, you can outthink and outperform your competitors by turning the process of choosing into an experience that is more positive and less mind-numbing for your customers. You can design a more helpful form of choice.”
Conversation Agent: What Really Affects Behavior
“The discipline [behavioral economics] reveals that the context and situation that surround product choice, decision heuristics and how consumers react to risk can sometimes trump the marketing mix.
Which is the reason why integration with participation and actually listening to customers are key in your activities. Marketing by context building continues to become more important especially online, where the context can be built and tended to in micro interactions via information (content) and participation. Personal and detailed can help you track, measure, and achieve your predetermined goals.”
TED Talks: Barry Schwartz on the Paradox of Choice
Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.
Change This: The Paradox of Choice
“Consumers tend to return to the products they usually buy, not even noticing 75% of the items competing for their attention and their dollars.”
[NOTE: Marketers, if you haven't read Barry Schwartz's book, "Paradox of Choice," I highly recommend it (if that hasn't been obvious yet.)]
Radiolab [Podcast]: Choice
“Logic and emotion aren’t the only forces that guide or decisions…We turn up the volume on the voices in our heads, and try to make sense of the babble. Forget free will, some important decisions could come down to a steaming cup of coffee.”
[This is a REALLY entertaining podcast! It's like listening to a book or movie.]
Happy reading, watching and listening!
[Image: Derek Sivers]