More options are better, right? That seems like it is common sense, especially in business. More options mean that there are more products to try and enjoy. If you have more product variety you can sell more!
But… maybe that’s not true…I like ice cream. There have been many late nights when my roommates and I have had a craving for ice cream. We get into someone’s car, drive to the store, walk to the refrigerated section, and stand there in wonder. There are at least twenty to thirty different brands, and each brand has many different options. Some brands have flavors like apple mint chocolate moose turtle pecan swirl and twenty other flavors with similar names. My friends and I don’t have time to sift through that, we need ice cream! We go straight to the brands that have the staple chocolate, vanilla, or maybe cookies and cream if we’re feeling crazy. In this case, a wide variety negatively influenced our decision.
Dr. Sheena Iyengar, professor at Columbia University, caught on to this trend and decided to do a little experiment in a grocery store. She set up a sample table two different times. The first time she placed 6 flavors of jam on the table, and the second time she placed 24 on the table. Each customer could sample all of the flavors, and they received a $1 off coupon for the jam of their choosing. She found that 60% of customers walking by were drawn to the larger selection, and only 40% of customers were drawn to the smaller selection.
In both cases the customers were encouraged to try as many jams as they wanted. They found that of the customers that were drawn to the larger selection 3% purchased a jam, but of the customers that were drawn to the smaller selection 30% purchased a jam. While the larger selection attracted more attention, the smaller selection sold six times as many jars of jam!
It looks like there is a fine a line when it comes to variety. While a large selection may attract more customers, a smaller selection sells more, which brings in more money. You can bring every person in the world into your store, but if they aren’t buying anything you won’t stay in business.
- Blake, Nasha Lending Intern