Marketing Strategy Blog

I Want More Choices!!! Well, Not Really…

Neuromarketing - Choices

Choice is good, right? But did you know that if you are providing your website visitors with too much choice, it may actually be killing your conversion rates?

Faced with a few choices, everything is hunky-dory. Your site visitors feel empowered. They feel good that they were able to filter out some choices. It’s all just awesome, and they feel warm and fuzzy all over.

However, it’s true. Give ’em too many choices, and their decision-making capabilities actually become paralyzed.

We’re not just blowing smoke here just to have something to yap about. There’s research backing this up. In 2000, Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University and Mark Lepper of Stanford University conducted an experiment about choice and its repercussions on the brain at a grocery store in Menlo Park, California. (You can check out their work here.)

They conducted the research with the recognition that many prior studies examining choice tended to focus on a very limited variance in options (e.g., offering two options vs. six). They wanted to understand how people react when given a much wider range of options (think of your most recent trip to the supermarket!).

In the study, they posed as store workers and displayed varying numbers of fruit jam for shoppers to taste. Half of the time there were six varieties, and the other half of the time there were 24. Of the shoppers who tasted the jam when only six kinds were displayed, 30% made a purchase. Of those who tasted the jam when 24 kinds were displayed, ONLY THREE PERCENT made a purchase.

The greater variety of 24 did attract more folks to their display table (60% of passers-by vs. 40% when only six kinds were displayed). And so certainly, having more choice lead to more interest. But at the same time, having less choice lead to dramatically greater conversion rates. And the bottom line in any case is sales, not interest. Without a doubt, giving fewer options lead to many more sales.

More specifically, displaying 75% FEWER options lead to approximately 6X MORE sales.

In their findings, Iyengar and Lepper point to P&G’s real-world experience in reducing the number of variations of its Head and Shoulders shampoo from 26 to 15. In doing so, P&G increased sales by 10%. Not as dramatic as their grocery store test, but certainly proof positive that providing a target audience with fewer options can lead to higher sales, not theoretically but actually.

So give your website visitors options. Just remember that they don’t need 7 million options…