I was born in one of India’s metropolitan cities Bangalore where I remember one of our relatives had come to our house. She was complaining having to buy toothpaste she said “there was only one brand of toothpaste my entire life and I was just at the store now and there are hundred different brands of toothpaste I hate this”. As a kid I remember thinking what the “hell is this woman on about” but now when I think about it she did have somewhat of a point.
You do not want to live in a place that sells only one brand of toothpaste but at the same time there are many disadvantages in having hundred different brands of toothpaste to choose from. Sometimes I find myself in a store in front of a hundred different brands of toothpaste to choose from and I waste a lot of time just standing there and having absolutely no idea what to pick which is commonly known as “PARADOX OF CHOICE“. All the different choices that are available today are supposed to make you better but can cause paralysis and make you worse off.
So what exactly is this paradox of choice?
The paradox of choice is when the consumer has an array of brands to choose from for a particular product meaning that they are indecisive when purchasing a product. This usually means that the consumer is disloyal as they move from one product to the next.
In reality many choices are between things that are not that different. The value of choice depends on our ability to perceive differences between the options. Australians train their whole lives to play spot the difference, we practice this from such an early age that we have come to believe that everyone must be born with this ability.
Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business in the management division of Colombia business School A.K.A one of the world’s expert on choice performed an experiment in a supermarket her team and herself set up a tasting booth right near the entrance of the store. They put out 6 different flavors of jam and 24 different flavors, more people stopped when there was 24 flavors and there was 6 but when it came to actually purchasing the jam they saw the opposite effect more people were likely to purchase the jam when there were the 6 different flavours.
The average grocery store today offers you up to 45 000 different products but ALDI offers only about 1400 products. ALDI, a German based company, is one of leading discount supermarket chain but it is a little bit of a different experience as compared to the usual “supermarket experience”. In ALDI you have to pay for your trolleys, the range of products are much smaller and have to take your own bags to carry all your groceries home but despite all these draw backs ALDI is the 9th largest retailer today.
Today we have an incredible abundance of choices, more than we ever had there is a paradox inherent to so much choice, which basically means all these choices are stressing us out.
A example of this are when you go to a restaurant and they give you an array of options to choose from. What this does is that it paralyses you and conveniently gives you the specials hence aiming the customer to choose the options with the greatest benefit to the business.
In my opinion when there are too many brands to compare from the process of choosing can be confusing and frustrating. Instead of making better choice we become overwhelmed by the choice itself and sometimes we are even afraid of it. Choice is no longer offers opportunity but imposes constraints.
It is therefore evident that brand and product choice is a relevant factor for any consumer. As technology grows extensively, consumers such as ourselves have been spoilt for choice for any product we go to purchase therefore attempting to create a repertoire market. Being given such an abundance destabilize the consumer’s mind hence creating a distinctive confusion.
What does this variety of choice do for you?
Schwartz, Barry. The Paradox Of Choice. New York: Ecco, 2004. Print.
“The Art Of Choosing | Sheena Iyengar”. Sheenaiyengar.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.