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Are Consumers Really Bewildered by Overchoice? An Experimental Approach to the Tyranny of “Too Much”

Beneke, Justin
Journal of food products marketing 2015 v.21 no.1 pp. 90-101
cognition, marketing, red wines
Conventional wisdom advocates that consumers love choice. But just how much? This study delves into this subject by considering the cognitive factors that underpin the consumer’s reaction to plentiful assortment on the shelf, but which may cause “analysis paralysis” and indecision. In an attempt to investigate the above, this study adopts an experimental approach to ascertain what occurs when consumers are faced with a multitude of options within the product category of red wine. The results suggest that if executed correctly, retailers can effectively reduce assortment in such a manner that does not negatively impact perceptions of choice, but does indeed reduce the cost incurred when consumers are forced to weigh up options against each other. Of particular interest, the study finds that product knowledge and experience also has a material effect on the outcome of these endeavors. Hence, both product category familiarity and the nature of the consumer should be factored into the strategic thinking of how a retailer can optimize the merchandise assortment displayed to the customer.