You Don’t Want To Choose

Marketing

by Kenny Hyder

Red Pill or Blue PillLet’s face it: you don’t like to make deci­sions. It’s ok, I don’t either. The pro­blem is ever­yone in the world thinks we do! We are cons­tantly bom­bar­ded with choi­ces, options, and deci­sions to make about everything we do and everything we buy, but are these choi­ces what we really want or need?

Case #1

supermarket

You’re at the gro­cery store buying some soup because you’re sick :( You go to the soup aisle to decide which type of soup suits your palette. After five minu­tes pass, you rea­lize that you’re sta­ring aim­lessly at all of the choi­ces! There are hun­dreds of soups! You decide on clam chow­der because it’s your favo­rite, but there are 3 dif­fe­rent varia­tions from each of the 4 dif­fe­rent brands. You end up grab­bing the one that you decide has the pret­tiest label because, how else are you to decide? You also grab some chic­ken noodle just for good measure.

In this case, it’s great to have a variety of choice for those with dif­fe­rent appe­ti­tes, but anyone who has been to the gro­cery store (espe­cially if you’re not a regu­lar shop­per) can iden­tify with stan­ding in the aisle, gazing off into never-never land at all of the count­less choi­ces for any num­ber of dif­fe­rent products.

Case #2

Des­pite the reces­sion, life has been good to you and you decide its time to get your­self a new whip. You have your sight set on something sporty, so you decide to check out the new Bugatti Vey­ron, the $1.7m price tag is merely a drop in the buc­ket for a baller like you.

bugatti

As you con­fi­gure your Bugatti on the web­site before hea­ding over to the dea­ler, you rea­lize you have a whop­ping 29 color com­bi­na­tions to choose from! How on earth will you ever decide which one is per­fect for you? Do you like the white on soft sil­ver, or the white sil­ver on grey sil­ver bet­ter? Camera one, camera two. CHOOSE NOW!

I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve bought 3 new cars in my adult life — 2 of them there was one color avai­la­ble on the lot, and 1 of them I chose bet­ween 2 colors. My car right now is grey, because that’s what they had, and I like it. Simple.

Et cetera

How many more sce­na­rios like this are there? What are we going to eat for din­ner, what movie do you want to watch, what kind of cell plan to get, where do you invest your money, and on forever.

Psycho­lo­gist Barry Sch­wartz said: “If everything is pos­si­ble, you don’t have free­dom —  you have paraly­sis.” This sta­te­ment brings a whole new mea­ning to the cliché “Less is more.”

When choice is given to the indi­vi­dual at infi­nite detail, it crea­tes chaos. As mar­ke­ters it is our job to look for ways to expand our mar­kets and often this results in more options, more choice, and ulti­ma­tely more deci­sions for the end user. The pro­blem is, when we leave deci­sion in the hands of the cus­to­mer, we take it out of the hands of the expert.

When Nike launched their “NIKEiD” cam­paign that allo­wed buyers to design and purchase their own cus­tom shoe, it got major atten­tion. I per­so­nally know seve­ral peo­ple that jum­ped on the oppor­tu­nity to design their very own shoes right away. As a result of this cam­paign, I have seen some of the ugliest shoes EVER to come from a major shoe brand. What was pre­viously hand­led by a pro­fes­sio­nal, the design, is now a series of options and choi­ces for the untrai­ned con­su­mer; and the result is poten­tially catastrophic.

Less Really IS More

Like it or not, all clichés are cliché for a rea­son. There is something power­ful about sim­pli­city. It’s why all Apple com­pu­ters are sil­ver and all iPods are either black or white. It’s why gas sta­tions offer 87, 89, and 91 octane gaso­line. It’s why 70% of users in the US pre­fer Goo­gle to other search engines.

Sim­pli­city, and remo­ving extra­neous choice strengthens the offer of any pro­duct and/or ser­vice by put­ting the focus on what’s really impor­tant. Most peo­ple think they want all of the choice to them­sel­ves; but when it comes down to it, they find it much easier to choose bet­ween clam chow­der or chic­ken noodle, than having to sift through a hun­dred dif­fe­rent soups.

{ 11 comments }

Lisa Barone February 18, 2010 at 6:51 am

We went to Friendly’s last night for dinner and the waitress gave us each THREE menus. THREE! It took us like 45 minutes to decide what we wanted because we were starving and it was all too much. Who wants that many options?

Chris Bennett February 18, 2010 at 9:09 am

My wife and I talk about this all the time in regards to where to live. Since I can work from anywhere it is actually harder for us to find a place to settle down as opposed to most people who move and stay for a job. That quote is right on.

Kenny February 18, 2010 at 10:20 am

@Lisa – This is why I’ve always thought In-N-Out was brilliant, do you want a hamburger with or without cheese, and how many patties?

@Chris – Definitely Hawaii.. Or maybe Santa Barbara.

Lisa Barone February 18, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Kenny – Eh, but that’s only if you’re order off the printed menu. In N Out has that whole other “secret menu” that is fairly complicated in itself. I mean, the 2×4, 3×3, animal style, flying dutchmen, protein style, grilled cheese, veggie burgers, etc — you’ll be there forever. :)

Kenny February 18, 2010 at 1:59 pm

@Lisa – Yeah but you don’t “choose” from that menu, you only order from it if you know about it and know what you want. Newbs order from the printed menu and its painstakingly simple = win.

Lisa Barone February 18, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Kenny – You choose from it when you go with someone who’s a regular and they try and show off by reciting the entire secret In N Out menu because they’re douchebags who get off on making you feel inferior and it’s the only thing in their life they have “going” for them. I mean…what we were talking about? Never mind. I hate choices. Just order for me.

Kenny February 18, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Lisa – I try to avoid douchebags altogether.. Sometimes it’s inevitable I guess…

netmeg February 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Reminds me of that scene in Moscow On The Hudson where (Russian defector) Robin Williams passes out in the grocery store when he sees all the varieties of coffee on the shelves.

Tim Staines February 18, 2010 at 2:21 pm

My wife is like Lisa, always needing to read every item on the menu. I’m different, I typically find something I like and go with it. Even with an infinite selection, I’ll decide on something and make that “the thing I want the most” on the whole menu. It’s like a subconscious “less is more” button that I push to make things simpler for myself even if they don’t appear to be that way.

Todd Ballje February 24, 2010 at 10:34 pm

good article.

Tina Savera April 2, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Great article and couldn’t be more right. I need to rethink my home page. Thanks!

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