The Paradox of Choice. What is it? Examples


What is The Paradox of Choice. Years ago, an experiment was carried out in a supermarket: consumers had to choose between 24 varieties of jam. Consumers could taste the jams and buy as many as they wanted at a discount. The experiment was repeated the next day, but this time there were only six varieties of jam.

It was found out that as twice as many jams were sold on the second day compared to the first (in theory, out of 24 varieties of jam, the consumer would be more likely to find the one that best suited his needs).

This phenomenon has been dubbed 'The Paradox of Choice' by psychologist Barry Schwartz and essentially refers to the 'paralysis', the confusion caused to the consumer by numerous choices, which often results in the consumer not making a purchase.

This paradox, which some people dispute, is also attributed to the opportunity cost, as the more alternatives we have, the harder it is to find the best one, often driven by the fear that perhaps another alternative that we sacrifice could bring us more value (better value-for-money).

As Barry Schwartz said: "Even if they come to a choice, they never feel pleasure as they will always believe that an 'other' choice will always be the best (grass always looks green on the other side), and this tends to inflate their inner feelings of dissatisfaction and despair."

Needless to say that one of the first things a salesperson is trained to do (e.g. in a clothing store) is exactly that, to narrow down, to two or three, the customer's choices by removing the rest from the counter, as they know that too many choices not only require more time, but may, through confusion, cause the customer to leave without buying anything.

John Protopapadakis is a marketing and customer service/complaint management expert. He has been an author, a professor, a consultant and a seminar instructor. As a keynote speaker his speeches are content-rich and motivational. {alertInfo}

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