“Be choosy about choosing.” – Sheena Iyengar
We hear it all the time, people don’t know what they want unless they’re faced with scarcity or educated on all the choices.
But there’s two problems with this assumption.
There’s no way for someone to be happy with a product made for the masses and there’s no way for someone to be happy if the array of product is hard to search.
The Internet breaks interests into clusters. Any reader or music shopper can log onto Amazon and break down a generic search like “Japanese” into sub categories “comics” and then “animals” until they find exactly what they’re looking for.
Books > Japanese > Comics > Animals
But consumers also have the option of searching books by “wisdom of crowds” in the most popular books section. The retailer can influence purchasing behavior too with recommended titles. By limiting selection, they increase profits.
From a consumer perspective, choice is turned off or on based on how choosy we want to be. The more knowledge or familiarity of a product makes our checkout easy, given a reasonable price. Product ignorance or carelessness turns people into marketing targets for endcaps.
The online and physical store worlds benefit from both the long-tail and universal ways of selling.
P.S. – Social influence makes choice even more elastic. Friends can deteremine your wish lists.