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Decisions, decisions, decisions

Author: Katie Hart

Date: 26 Sep 2022


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Decisions, decisions, decisions

How many decisions do you think you have made so far today? Well, depending on the time of day you are reading this, that number could be much higher than you think.

From deciding what to eat, wear and say, through to deciding who to marry, whether to accept a job or buy a particular house, decisions are a huge part of our everyday lives. Some decisions are big, and some decisions are much smaller. But they keep on coming!

The best estimates at the moment (taken from research conducted in 2013) is that the average adult makes approximately 35,000 decisions each day. Of which, we make an average of 226.7 decisions just around food – each day!

Yes, our brain is a decision-making machine. But it is easy to give our brain too many options to decide between. You see, contrary to what most consumer research tells you, our brains don’t actually want to have lots of choice.

Time and time again, the evidence shows us that our brains effectively become paralysed if we provide it with too many choices, and so we take the easiest decision…which is often to make no decision at all. Let me give you an example…

In 2000, psychologists Iyengar and Lepper published their findings from a study into jams. Yes, you read that right…jams! They set up a stall in a local supermarket and sought to sell jams. In the first session, they had 24 options of jams on display and available for people to buy. In the second session, they had 6 options on display and available for people to buy.

So, what do you think happened?

Well, the first difference they experienced was that when there were more options on display, more people stopped at their stand (59% of passing people stopped when there were 24 options, compared to 42% when there were 6 options).

However, the second difference they experienced was in the numbers who actually went on to make a purchase. With the limited range of six options to choose from, nearly 30% of people who visited the stand made a purchase (29.8%). Compared to when there were 24 options available, when only 2.7% of those who visited the stand made a purchase.

So, reducing the number of options available, actually increased their sales 10 fold.

Please remember this tip when you are developing products and services. If you give your customers too many choices, they will take the easiest option which is simply to do nothing, to walk away, to scroll on, to not buy.

And if you want to really be scared about the way our brains handle decisions making, ask me about the research which looked at the way Doctors made decisions on behalf of their patients!

Or not, you decide…

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