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Friday, August 17, 2007

Too many choices cost sales

A story by Nadia Sawva and Clark Steffyin Employee Benefits News reports on a study from UCLA about jam at a grocery store. You may wonder what this has to do with construction marketing.

A lot -- especially if you are in a situation where you can offer a diversity of solutions to a problem or to satisfy the needs of your prospective client. Based on the UCLA study, you will want to narrow down the choices you offer.

The store the researchers used offers a diversity of jams.

The researchers set up a sampling table, and invited one group to choose from 24 varieties.

Then they set up another table, and offered onlysix varieties.

With the extensive selection, 60 per cent of of the people passing by the booth stopped to sample the jam; with the six-only selection, the number of samplers dropped to 40 per cent.

But here is the significant item in the research. At the table where people could sample only six varieties, 30 per cent of the visitors purchased something. With 24 varieties, only three per cent purchased anything. In other words, offering additional choice increased 'traffic' -- but cost real business by an order of magnitude.

The explanation for this dichotomy has something to do with the way we make decisions. We say we want choice, we want options, but when it comes down to it, we have trouble making a selection when too many choices are offered so we respond by not making a decision at all.

This is apparent with financial services, and the article described how investment plans administrators should narrow their choices so that people don't just avoid the decision.

I suppose in practical terms, when we "have" to make a decision -- like purchasing a car or house -- we do our own narrowing down to make a decision. But when we don't, or when the choices are too complex and detailed, we invite the prospective client to 'think it over' until someone comes up and say -- this is right for you -- and you know it is right, and purchase.

In practical terms, you will want to frame your options and choices carefully; perhaps giving the sense of freedom but not overwhelming the people you are doing with with too much obvious choice.

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