Give me more choice. No, less choice. And never tell me what to do! ~ Brand Mix

Monday, October 4, 2010

Give me more choice. No, less choice. And never tell me what to do!

Continuing to find some interesting articles and posts about consumer choice and consumer behavior:

1) Well, it must be really good: Indexed

In my last post: Should brands tell the truth?, I referenced research that showed wine preference is more influenced by how expensive people think it is than what was actually in the bottle--the exact point made on this Indexed card.

2) What We're Following in Consumer Behavior: HBR
Jack Brehm, a psychologist, coined the term "reactance" to describe how people respond to a perceived threat to their independence. Recent research shows this consumer trait has all sorts of affects on behavior. For example:

  • If people have an opinion about something, an expert telling them something different is not going to help, in fact it will only get them to dig in their feet.
  • If you tell people they are brand conscious, they will react by choosing things that aren't branded.
  • If you confine people in tight spaces, they'll respond with independence-asserting behavior--researchers showed that shoppers will increase the variety of things they buy when they're shopping in crowded aisles of grocery stores.
3) A Better Choosing Experience: strategy+business
Given our ornery nature, how can we be encouraged to make better choices? We can't handle all the choices we already have but we still insist on more choice and we're highly resistant to having anyone tell us what to do or make choices for us.

In this well-worth-a-read strategy+business article, Sheena Iyengar and Kanika Agrawal suggest (and illustrate) four actions to to take to help consumers help themselves:

  • Cut the number of options
  • Create confidence with expert or personalized recommendations
  • Categorize offerings so that consumers can better understand their options
  • Condition consumers by gradually introducing them to more complex choices
4) Want People to Save? Force Them: Dan Ariely
Chile has decided that, when it comes to saving, its people get to choose some things, not others. They don't get to choose not to save, for example. By law, 11% of every employee’s salary is automatically transferred into a retirement account. Dan thinks that this system is brilliantly conceived and forces consumers to act in a better way but acknowledges that such a system would probably not fly in the States. He wonders why we accept so much government intervention in some areas (like driving) and won't tolerate any in others (like investing). He suggests that it's because of our limited abilities to imagine negative consequences-- we can "see" what will happen if we crash our car but we can't see what will happen if we don't save and invest sensibly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin. Great post. I thought you would find this article relevant. I believe too little and too many choices make you unhappy.

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