ProperLilian blog overchoice

The paradox of choice – Choice Overload

When Choice Overload is Demotivating

What do your clients do when they have too many options or what we now know as Overchoice? According to the Jam Study conducted by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper from Columbia and Stanford University, shoppers were more likely to purchase from a smaller selection of jams (6) than a larger selection (24).

The study revealed what we already suspected about choice confusion. The jam study revealed that the big selection generated more interest, but people were about 10 times less likely to purchase a jar of jam compared to the smaller selection.  The study shows that while choice seems appealing and most if not all of your clients want to explore another option, choice overload generates the opposite results in sales. And it’s not only the sales volume that were impacted, customer satisfaction was lower. In the study, the larger number of displayed jams lead to lower customer satisfaction than the smaller number, proving that choice can demotivate the customer.

What we can understand is that too much choice paralyzes human decision-making.

You can question if the paradox of choice applies to all products and services. But I would suggest taking a look at the perspective from a human behavior aspect.

Take Tinder for example, and experiment yourself, if you are single of course. Start on the platform and select a potential interesting mate then swipe right and stop reviewing. Can you really stop after the first match?

Obviously, the answer is no. Because what you would intuitively think is … what if there is a better match? And then you keep swiping until ….the end of time. If users stopped after the first successful match, tinder would have a limited number of users, since after each person had a single successful match then they would leave the platform. Instead, we see more and more users / choice from tinder making it impossible to pick a date and stick with that. Sadly,  Tinder’s growth is based on the fact that is leveraging overchoice to keep people engaging with the platform and eventually spend money to have more “better” options. People never leave the platform and they are, at the same time, highly demotivated to pick a date. The endless swiping and user engagement are the core success of the platform which just makes money for Tinder. I guess they need money for all their internal drama…

Same thing sadly can be observed in Real Estate. Some client will reach you and will express their intention to view all available properties in the region. Those clients that are ACTUALLY visiting absolutely any available option, are NOT going to buy. If you have that kind of client reaching out to you… I would say that they are probably the worst converting clients ever, EVER. I do not assume that this is an intentional strategy per se. But in any case they will waste your time and won’t buy because they have bought the idea that there is a possible “better” option somewhere and they will never settle for anything. Eventually, clients will have to compromise on their secondary demands if they truly want to buy a property.

What I used to do in order to identify the client’s intention would be to explain the overchoice. Then I would have a short interview with the potential buyer to understand what they absolutely want and where are they willing to compromise. Then show them 1 to 3 properties. Any number above 4 properties is a bad idea for both you and the potential client.

I want to close this article with a quote from the study worth mentioning: “Being confronted by a plethora of options, each possessing unique attributes, may instead simultaneously attract and repel choice-makers. One wonders then: Do people use affective experiences aroused by choosing as a heuristic for deciding how they ultimately feel about the product? If not such an affective “bleedover,” then what else might be accounting for these effects?

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Hi, I am Lilian!
I have a long lasting relationship with Marketing, Advertising and Real Estate. This blog's purpose is to share my stories with you. I hope you find them useful and enjoyable.

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