Marketing: Review range, less is more

Jane Blakeborough product choice

Jane Blakeborough advises on product choice

Expert: Jane Blakeborough

Company: J.M.Blake Marketing

Background: Owner of J.M.Blake Marketing, a specialist consultancy tailored to companies within the bathroom industry

 

We know that having choice is good for our well-being; the more choices people have, the better they feel and marketers have assumed adding more options to their range of products and services will make the customer feel better about their brand. However, recent research has found that there comes a point where the choice is so great that a shopper will quite literally freeze at the thought of having to choose.

It all started with jam .... 

Two psychologists Sheena Lyengar and Mark Lepper ran a study in 2000 at an upmarket food store. They set up a display table of gourmet jams and periodically changed the number of jams displayed to either 24 varieties or 6 varieties. The results indicated that although more shoppers stopped to sample the jams when more variety was offered (60%), compared to when 6 varieties were available (40%), this did not translate into higher sales.  The results showed that only 3% of those who sampled the large display wound up purchasing jam while 30% of those who sampled the small display made a purchase.

This experiment has been carried out across a number of different product types, each time confirming what Lyengar and Lepper highlighted; that more is not always best.

Although having more options will increase the objective outcome of a consumer finding what they require from your range, the subjective outcome can be that the consumer feels overwhelmed and dissatisfied. 

Offering a huge number of different choices is not a strategy, it's lazy marketing.  Rather than researching customers' needs and requirements and addressing these with a properly targeted range of products and services, a scattergun approach to marketing is often taken i.e. throw everything out there to anyone who will listen and eventually you will get a sale.

Equally, allowing a range which started out as a small collection of targeted products to grow into an out-of-control monster is the result of not carrying out structured range reviews. Routinely analysing sales of each product against targets will highlight products which no longer justify their place on the shelf, are confusing customers and potentially damaging your brand.

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