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Smart Marketing: How Consumers Look at Trivial Details and the Order of Product Choices 

By K. Ong

What happens when a consumer is confronted by multiple product choices? Does the order of product choices influence a consumer to buy? What can you do as a marketer to increase the likelihood of a consumer making a selection and buying it? Read on and find out.

On Consumers Being Assailed by Numerous Product Choices

When a consumer contemplates which product to buy among the wide array of competing for merchandise sporting different brands, he normally gets stuck and does something that may seem counterintuitive—instead of choosing, he looks for more options.

That’s according to results of a study published in the August 2012 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. The researchers label the propensity of consumers to agonize over trivial decisions, like which brand of toothbrush to buy, as a “decision quicksand.”

Consumers tend to believe that when they find it difficult to decide on a product, they are in the process of making an important decision. Thus, they spend more time considering the various options. They also seek more product options to add to the already dizzying assortment of product choices before them.

As a marketer, you must keep in mind that this is how your potential customer generally decides when he is faced by different product options. If you own an online store, for example, you can easily limit the number of choices for the same product, like selling only two or three different colors of the same mug. Always make it easy for your potential customer to zero in on an item and complete the purchase.

On Consumer Buying Decisions Being Affected by the Order of Product Choices

Based on the paper entitled “The Effect of Ordering Decisions by Choice-Set Size on Consumer Search,” which appeared in the October 2012 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, it is best to present small choice sets before introducing large product assortments, because this motivates a potential customer to choose a product from the larger assortment.

Combine the results of this study with what was discussed earlier about the natural tendency of consumers to become hopelessly mired in numerous product choices, and you have just armed yourself with an effective way to position your products in your online retail shop, product catalog, or marketing brochure.