Choice reduction | KHWS

Choice reduction

Behavioural Insight

Twelve months ago my favourite burrito shop closed. I still have a completed loyalty card. It was a welcoming place; service with a smile, tasty product and simple choice. “Large or small, meat or veg, mild or hot” and of course…“guacamole?”

All things must come to an end and in this case the enterprising owner returned to his studies and passed the reigns over to his younger sibling. Stamping her mark on the shop, she has converted from Mexican to Vietnamese. I love Vietnamese and was really looking forward to a similar experience. As one of the first to visit after the grand opening, I was initially impressed – fresh, vibrant, lively, friendly. But then I approached the counter and looked up.

Bamboozled by a plethora of choice on a blackboard that could hardly fit everything on, confusion reigned in me, in the staff, in customers. These days I wander past anxiously peering in hoping they have reduced the menu but all I see are stressed staff, factious customers and people turning away.

‘Too much choice confuses’ (Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice). Did you know that around the same time my burrito shop shut, Tesco scrapped 30,000 of its 90,000 products to counter the growing market shares of Aldi and Lidl and the simplicity of their offering? Perhaps Tesco senior management enjoy a good burrito too?

From groceries to personal grooming, the problem of too much choice seems to be down every aisle in the supermarket.

I get more and more confused when buying toothpaste. What should I buy next? The same brand is offering me whitening, or fresh breath, cavity protection, how about sensitive teeth? And then if I’m not confused enough, I can get all four in one!

I retreat, take the original, and tackle my indecision next time.

I move into the shaving section. I’m confronted with an array of brand options, but a streamlined product offer. Evolution in shaving as I see it is how many more blades can you fit in a razor. An impressive technical feat, but you don’t get offered blades one to five anymore, just six.

“Our best ever” and “simple choice” reassures me that I’ve made the best purchase.

No-one can account for human behaviour. One man’s castle, is another man’s home. For me that’s what makes marketing so much fun. Viewing challenges through “human shortcuts” is something we do at KHWS to give our clients alternative insights that build and work with the traditional purchase journey. Our planning model includes nine sales triggers based on heuristics that help frame or inspire new thinking. One such trigger is “choice reduction”.

I’m going back to the Vietnamese to let them know. I’ve got too much emotional equity tied up in that place. And who knows? I may be able to exchange my loyalty card…