It is often assumed that more is better - offer customers more choice, and they’re more likely to buy our products since they’re more likely to find what they’re looking for. Take Pantene for example, they offer shampoos ranging from Advanced Care, Classic Clean and Beautiful Lengths to Ice Shine, Nature Fusion and Ultimate 10 - to name but a few. Something for everyone.
So, how could all this choice possibly be bad for business? Surely, with enough varieties of products, our customers can find exactly what they’re looking for.
This is the paradox of choice. If a person is presented with too many options, they are less likely to buy.
Information Overload in a Consumer Driven World
Never before have we had access to so much information at our fingertips. An IBM Marketing Cloud study reported that over 90% of the information on the internet has been created since 2016. We produce over 2.5 Quintilian bytes of data a day. To put that into perspective, if I had to write those zeroes out in long hand, it would be sitting higher than Mount Everest. All of a sudden our little blog post is feeling a little insignificant.
Information overload is infecting our lives and is multiplied exponentially when we are forced to wade through copious amounts of information to make simple decisions. In fact, we make on average 35,000 per day. All of this brain function becomes confusing and overwhelming, resulting in what many call “data asphyxiation” i.e. the anxiety and anomie caused by too much information.
Too Much Information - Choosing Not To Choose
We experience an inordinate volume of unwanted information every day, like advertisements, extensive product ranges and well-meaning friends sharing content on our social channels. All of this places heavy demands on our brain function, which becomes overwhelmed and confused.
For a long time, supermarkets thought more is more. More choice, more client purchases. But, the saying less is more has never been more important than when it relates to closing sales. No one made us more aware of this than Dr Sheena Iyengar with her famous jam sales research.
Choices mean that we omit the opportunity to experience something else. This makes us feel stressed. These situations increase our production of cortisol (a stress hormone) and our fight-or-flight hormone, which overstimulates our brain and causes mental fog.
What that translates to is - nothing. We choose not to choose and therefore, there is no transaction. For the average person, too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.
Solution: Curation & Categorization
Curation isn’t just a fancy term exclusive to the art industry anymore. It is what we are now turning to, to navigate these mass production waters.
It refers to the process of cultivating our content, products, services and information in such a way that we eliminate the excess and only serve the best. You need a happy medium between leaving customers no choice and bombarding them with an endless range of products. Find the sweet spot.
Fun Fact: When Head & Shoulders shampoo cut their product line from 26 to 15 products, Procter and Gamble saw a 10% increase in their sales.
We need to start serving curated content to our clients. Netflix and Amazon have been doing it for years through content and product suggestions triggered by every click their consumers make. Start looking intrinsically by analysing shopper behaviour and intent through their online journey. Help your audience take the guesswork out of the decision-making process.
At this stage, you get it. Information overload is a problem. Although there are some decisions that will never be easy, make it your prerogative to encourage your customers to buy more and decide less. Lessen your choices and tailor your consumers’ shopping experiences to free your customers from the burden of choice.