Given too many choices, will you still choose one?

Traditionally, retailers, restaurants, and service providers have grown by increasing their product selection. They’ve figured that the more options the consumer has the more likely they are to buy something. Not true.

Studies have shown that people are actually less likely to buy when they are given too many choices. We were at a seafood restaurant in Denver this weekend and the menu was so overwhelming that I found myself giving up on the menu. I literally put it down and decided to just order something from the daily specials menu because it had just 4 or 5 options.

Are you losing sales because your offering is too broad? Are you causing your customers to go into analysis paralysis? Consider Costco, Sam’s Club, and Walmart. They’ve each successfully increased revenue by limiting their selection. Rather than being overwhelmed with 60 choices of toothpaste like you’ll find at Target or Safeway, Costco, Sam’s, and Walmart often give you just one or maybe two options. It takes the contemplation out of it. If you need toothpaste, you choose one and move on. You don’t waste even 60 seconds wondering if Extra Whitening is better than Super Whitening.

The lesson here is that “easy” is typically better than “more.”

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