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Less is more: Influencing consumers

It’s well documented that offering fewer digital choices increases the number of choices made. We think this is because there is some magical quotient of choice. It isn’t.

Consumer choices are driven by a combination of irrational and complex feelings around loss and an innate western mantra that goes “freedom is good, freedom is the ability to choose and hence a greater choice equals greater freedom”. Utter bullshit.

Greater choice slows, and can even stall, the decision process. Throw in our natural tendency to worry about making a less-than-ideal decision and you can easily achieve a state of paralysis. This is the very opposite of freedom. We need some choice to be free, but too much is bad.

Once you made your choice you are then made unhappy, fretting that some feature is not as good as in the product you rejected during the initial decision. This detracts from the quality of the decision, even if it’s a good decision.

Too much choice and options greatly increases the expectation level, frequently generating disappointment even when the selection was of a good product. It is often said that the secret to happiness is low expectations.

Lastly, buyers remorse kicks in as features in the rejected product loom disproportionately large in the rear-view mirror. Lower levels of satisfaction dent the confidence in making future decisions.

In today’s society, we make ever more decisions and less of them are automatic. We are also bombarded with lots of marketing messages. The combination of these factors makes the process of making decisions a deeply unsatisfying process.

If you’ve not made the link; this relates closely to the explosion of choice that the digital world offers. Less really is more, and not just on the face-value of simpler decision trees but on a deeper, psychological level.

“Keep it simple” has never more relevant.