Thursday, September 16, 2010

See Through Consumers’ Boredom Fears

A while back, some Carnegie Mellon students were offered a bonus treat in their economics or history class: They could select snacks to be given to them at the end of three successive class sessions. The choices included Snickers bars, Oreo cookies, milk chocolate with almonds, tortilla chips, peanuts, and cheese-peanut butter crackers.
     Since the offer was part of a consumer behavior study, though, it wasn’t all that simple. Half the participants were invited to choose one item on each of the three weeks. At each session, they weren’t told if there would be additional opportunities to choose in future classes. The other participants were told that in the first class session they were to select the treat they wanted for each of three classes in advance.
     In one of the groups, 45% of the participants ended up choosing three different items. In the other group, only 8% of the participants ended up choosing three different items. Which group exhibited a broader variety of choices, do you think? The ones who chose one each day to have that day? The ones who selected at the start the three to have on the three separate days? And why do you think there was a difference in the variety frequency of the two groups?
     Before I tell you the correct match of percentage to group, I’ll tell you a few of the explanations consumer behavior researchers have for these and similar results:
  • People overestimate the extent to which they’ll get tired of eating or using the same item. They think they’ll want to make a change when, in fact, they’ll end up sticking with a favorite.
  • When offered a range of alternatives, people see it as an opportunity to try out something new.
  • Some people find it easier to say, “Give me one of each,” than to carefully assess the tradeoffs in the choices.
     Yes, that’s right. The students who selected all three treats at once were the 45% group.
     As a retailer, recognize that customers fear boredom, but build out product usage from what’s familiar to them.
  • Offer what the consumer sees as variety.
  • When promoting new product alternatives, keep more familiar choices in place for a while.
  • When shoppers hesitate in selecting among alternatives, encourage them to buy more than one flavor.
Click below for more:
Sell More By Adding Variety
Give Shoppers Variety for Control
Make It Easy to Choose Two

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