Is less always more?
Here is a question to be answered in mythbusters style: “Do the number of available choices create a choice overload effect in consumers?” As a starting point, consider a well-known study in which consumers receive a coupon in a grocery store after tasting two jams. Consumers who were limited to choosing from only 6 jams followed through with purchase more often than consumers who could choose from 24 jams. On balance, consumers with more options are reported to be less satisfied, less confident, and more regretful of their choice. Results seem aligned with the adage “less is more” and its corollary “more is less.”
Fast forward more than a decade of follow-up studies, some confirming and others disconfirming the choice overload effect. A meta-analysis published in 2013 found no choice overload effect, only high variability in study results. Why is the choice overload effect observed in some studies and not in others? More importantly, when choice overload is realized, what other factors are involved?
Castura, J.C., & Colonna, A.E. (2019). Is less always more? In: Consumer choice, not a new Nicholas Sparks novel, rather how we observe and measure matters (presented by McMahon, K.M., Barnett, S.M., Castura, J.C., Colonna, A.E., Bowen, A.J., Gallardo, R.K.). Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo. 2-5 June. New Orleans, LA, USA. (Symposium Oral).