Have we actually come to the stage in marketing where we’re simply deluged with too many choices, whereby our ability to effectively and adeptly choose which product best fits our needs or preferences is being severely hampered? Some market analysts believe so. Scheibehenne et al (2010) assert that when we are faced with too many options from which to choose, our motivation to make a choice wanes, or we become dissatisfied with the choices we made due to constantly questioning ourselves as to whether the optimum choice was made.
Oh sure, we try to convince ourselves that we researched the product, shopped for the best deal, and even tell ourselves that we outsmarted the salesman into giving us a better price than anyone has ever attained. Of course, deep down, we know that’s far from the case, and moreover, as soon as we leave the store, the car lot, or the furniture store with our purchase, we encounter that internal nemesis known as “buyer remorse.” Why do we conjure up these emotional doubts in ourselves? The answer lies in the fact that regardless of when we purchase, why we purchase, and from whom we purchase; no sooner than we do, another ad pops up on the Internet, in the newspaper, or on the radio alerting us to an alternate to that product that we just purchased, with better features, lower price, and better warranty. Geez! How can we possibly retain our sanity in this world of marketing abundance constantly being spewed in our direction? Is it time to get on that 2013 version of the SS Minnow, and only hope that our fate is the same as that which Gilligan encountered – to be marooned on a deserted island, removed from all forms of marketing techniques, away from the barrage of minute-by-minute advertisements, only to be left alone with our fellow castaways with no form of solicitation levied our way? Really? Is that the answer? Of course not, because we all know that regardless of the remoteness of the island, an Internet service provider is sure to follow us. As such, there’s no escape!
So what are we to do in our attempt to coexist with the relentless array of marketing campaigns targeting us daily in order to retain our sanity? The answer is quite simple; we should embrace the multitude of options that these campaigns provide. It is easy to think back to the simplicity in purchasing decision-making that once existed when there were only two choices available (chocolate or vanilla). Sure, the decision-making process was easy then, but at the same time, we were unwittingly being deprived of our freedom of true choice. Marketing campaigns were limited in their reach, demographic research abilities, and overall breadth of consumer advocacy. Basically, we were stuck with the limited choices thrust upon us. It was either regular or de-caf; now the lattes, frappes, cappuccinos, and the rest scramble our brains to make the choice of the day, but aren’t we truly better off for at least having these options? I, by no means, partake in any of these indulgences, but I am empathetic to the consumers who have these choices at their disposal, for they are free to select the product they want, not just the product granted unto them.
So the next time you reach the point of sheer frustration over being inundated with marketing campaigns for anything from cars, computers, furniture, clothing, shoes, sporting goods, audio, video, digital, technology and the other million ads with which we are subjected to on a regular basis, keep in mind the alternative. Wouldn’t you rather have brands competing for your dollar, rather than you having to compete against other buyers in a market with limited products from which to choose? Ultimately, these inexorable campaigns induce the true spirit of capitalism, inasmuch that given multiple choices, the consumer ultimately holds the cards, and that makes for a much more leveraged dollar in terms of our buying power vs. their selling strength.
Benjamin Scheibehenne, B., Greifeneder, R., & Todd, P. (2010). Can there ever be too many options? A meta‐analytic review of choice overload. Journal of Consumer Research , 37(3), 409-425.