Are too many choices frustrating consumers?

A study done by Catherine Heath, chief strategist at the advertising agency Kastner & Partners, says yes. She spent 2 months with 20 consumers in Sydney to see what they bought and why.

"Without doubt every single person I spent time with told me that they were fed up with the choices that faced them," she said. "They all said the same thing - 'We just want it to be made easier."'

I know I've seen the people who stand in front of a sea of choices, holding two or three different brands in their hands reading the packaging in an attempt to suss the difference between the items. Even I have fallen victim to the proliferation of products myself.

This article uses deoderant as an example of the vast choices, but really you can find them in nearly every category. For example, the vast choices can turn shopping for a disposable razor and blade into a 30 minute event. Scented? Two blades? Three blades? Four blades? Battery-powered? With aloe? Blades coated with titanium? It's quite headache-making if you're not prepared.

Mike Morrison, chief strategy officer of one of Australia's largest advertising agencies, George Patterson Y&R, predicted last year that a backlash against the "over-choiced" market was not far off.

His research identified growing frustration among stressed-out consumers at having to spend more time cutting through the clutter and noise in their lives to get what they want - a trend he dubbed "simplexity".

Too many brands were offering "choice without distinction", Mr Morrison said.

While the big manufacturers such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble are reducing the number of brands they manage, focusing on their best performers, supermarkets are clearing out brands to make way for their own private-label ranges.

Commentators say this is forcing manufacturers to increase their number of "extensions", or lines spun off from their best-performing brands. "The supermarkets are gearing up to launch their own brands and they are knocking brands off the shelf to make way," said a retail consultant, Geoff Cutler.

The big question becomes are companies diluting their brands by over-extending them?

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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AnonymousCoward's picture

I ate a bag of Frito-Lay

Dabitch's picture

Did they really name the brand after a stoner symptom in "just say no" country? ;)

AnonymousCoward's picture

YES! In this case, "getting stoned" is the only choice you have to make.

Dabitch's picture

Bless those marketing dudes who came up with that. Now, if it could only be delivered with pizza.......