Now, studies at Yale University, University of New South Wales, and Peking University indicate that you can avoid this problem by encouraging the shopper to think in more abstract ways, such as about features the items have in common rather than considering each item in the choice as unique. Similarly, researchers at University of Delaware and University of Pennsylvania discovered that a way to keep shoppers engaged is to encourage them to focus on product features rather than item alternatives. With the features in mind, the person can start rating each alternative until coming to a decision.
So in your marketing, point out how you offer a large number of choices. When a shopper starts the shopping with you, display categories within categories to highlight the abundance of alternatives.
Then recognize the potential for choice overload.
- To make things easier for the shopper, use similar wording in describing the features of each product. And provide tables that list features across the top, the names of a small selection of product alternatives along the left side, and checkmarks in the cells to indicate which product has which features.
- In the product descriptions and in the table, describe features concisely. Outside the table, state the benefit of each feature: “Low rolling resistance gives you better fuel efficiency.”
- Include no more than five of the most important product features and no more than five of the product alternatives. If the product alternatives are highly similar in what features they have, include one or two trivial features which one or two of the alternatives have, but the others don’t. This helps unfreeze the decision maker who is immobilized by information overload.
- Make it easy to choose more than one alternative. Say something like, “As you noticed, this sweater comes in five designs. Which of those designs might you want to buy?” In signage, list the flavors along with the text, “How many flavors do you want?” Offer a discount for multiple-item purchases. Set a package price that results in a lower per-item cost, such as six pairs of socks, two each of the three most popular colors.
Compare Features to Ease Overload
Make It Easy to Choose Two