Created by WS-71, 2015

Overchoice


I. Introduction.

Due to the fast pace of life in the techno-society nowadays, people have been being put under the tremendous pressures in business and in daily life as well. Day by day, we must consume tons of information which we have to analyze and classify to make the decisions around the clock. Although making choices affects a lot on our lives, but, it is not true that we always get the true right things. To go further inside this matter, we will consider its actual situation and nature to find out the causes as well as discuss about how to make the decision easier or choose the better choice for ourselves.

II. Definition: What is Overchoice?

“Over choice” is simply explained as “too many choices”. Toffler, Alvin (1971) defined that “over choice takes place when the advantages of diversity and individualization are canceled by the complexity of buyer’s decision-making process.’.

 

The first time we notice the problem of “over choice” is basically in daily life. Every single person faces more than 70 choices in a single day. Moreover, for every choice there are several options provided. Most of those choices and options are only regarding to certain areas or just focused on the same topics. This phenomenon leads to a very common thought: If a person does not have so many options, the person will not suffer so much and he or she will lives a simpler life.

 

Besides the daily life, “over choice” is a comprehensive phenomenon in business field, especially in marketing. Settle, R.B and Golden, L.L (1974) pointed that over choice is caused by technological progress. Since more and more products and services are provided through technological innovation, customers have the chance to choose between the substitutions even the same product with different brand names. Moreover, expansion of production also means an increase of income level, which leads to an increase of consumption.

III. Current status of over choice

1. In daily life

In daily life people always face the problem of over choice. Some of the choices are not that important. Every morning for breakfast, there are thousands of different kinds of bread with different tastes and different brand names. These choices are not really matters, people always just follow their preferences or take turns to try everything they like. Although these kind of choice cannot impact our lives deeply, people still have to think about the options they have. The first time people would like to buy a product, they have to search for the information about the most famous brands and then try their best to make a “rational” choice. This is a suffer procedure, since people cannot purchase suitable information about the product due to the overstated advertisements.

 

In fact, there still some very important choices people make in daily life will affect them for a life time. Especially in this time, as long as the development of technology and globalization, people have a good opportunity to do whatever they want. For example, young people can choose to work or go to university for further education either in their own country or aboard. Another example, there are hundreds of different majors in a university, as a graduating student from high school, this “over choice” make young people confused. It is difficult to make decision, especially these long-term influenced decision. The problem is still that people always do not know the consequences of their choices, and there is no way to predict the future.

2. In business

It is worth noting that holding exact and in time information is extremely important for everybody and it is even all the more with who hold the high positions and can cause the huge affects in a company, an organization, a community or higher and bigger such as a country or even the whole world.

In case of business, it is true that the more value information a CEO can manage, the more success he can get than others. It is no doubt that a leader needs good source of information to make the decision in time. This is very important. But, there is a controversial thing which has been existed for a long time. Some recently researches which held within some aspects pointed out that receiving too much information affects negatively on human behaviors.

In a survey at a upscale grocery store – the Draeger’s, researchers had used tasting booths to attract customers and then compare the number of the customers who tasted and bought product in case of 6 and 24 kinds of jam. There were about 240 customers took part in the survey. At the end of the survey, it was easy to realize that the more kinds of jam available, the more consideration of customers put on them. However, when it comes to the percentage of customers who went on to purchased a jam over the customers who stopped to look at the jam, the rate of who encountered 6 was 10 times compared to the rate of who encountered 24, 30% compared to 3%.

Due to the result of the survey, it is not hard to realize that customers are easy to be attracted with a large number of products; however, they are likely to make the decision to buy a product when they just have a few choices. In other words, having a lot of choices in short intervals makes people feel confused and they usually tend to avoid offerings.

3. How to find a book in time of overchoice

As an example for over choice I’m going to tell you a story about how I bought my new books. I wanted to take a quick look at an online shop for books. I didn`t really know, which kind of book I wanted to buy. There are so many categories of books: bestseller, thriller, mystery stories, fantasy novels, horror stories, love stories, specialist books, cooking books, comics, volumes of poetry and for example books for the young. I knew I didn`t want to read comics, thrillers or some icky love stories. I clicked at the bestseller of the year 2014. There is a book about a cat named Bob, a cooking book, a book for young readers and many other books, which I find somehow not really interesting. I click on novels and hoped that I find a book, which interests me. I clicked at a lot of books. Many stories aren´t interesting for me or there is too little information. Some books sounded interesting and I put the books into the virtual cart, but I´m not really sure if I really want to read them.

I clicked at another book. The story sounds fantastic and I decided to put it in the virtual cart, too, but I can´t read a segment beforehand and there are no comments on the book. I thought some books sounded interesting, but I couldn`t really decide to buy one. One hour passed already and I still haven’t decided.

I decided to go to our little bookshop where there are not as many books as you can find on the internet. So I had a short look at the history novels, where I opend the first book and I read some sentences. Sadly it’s not appealing to me.. Therefore I take another book out of the bookshelf. The story sounded very interesting and I read some pages.  While I read the book it felt real, not fictional and very honest. I walked by some other bookshelves  and stoped again to look at another book. Twenty minutes later I payed my two books and went outside with a smile on my face. I think this is a good example for over choice, because it is hard to choose from the huge variety of books on the internet. When you are presented with a smaller selection of books it is easier to decide.

IV. How to make choices easier?

The root of the over choice is the confusion in receiving and using the information. This leads people to a lot of results of that they have to choose to follow this way or another. Thus, to resolve this issue needs the solutions to overcome difficulties about collecting and analyzing information.

According to Sheena Lyengar, she pointed out 4 tools that can help people to make choosing easier including Cut, Concertize, Categorize and Condition.

The first one – Cut means that we need to get rid of the redundant options. It is easy to understand that when we cut off the extraneous alternatives, our customers can easier focus their concentration on what we have and what they truly need. As the matter of fact, cutting redundancy is not only help the customer, but also help the salesman a lot because it helps lower the costs and improves the customer’s choosing experience.

The second one is Concretize: In order for people to understand the differences between the choices, they have to be able to understand the consequences associated with each choice. For example, in the real life, people usually feel free and easier when they go shopping with their Master cards than using cash on the same product. There are some applied fees on each trade, but they don’t care much about it because the feeling of that is not the real money. In a study, Benartzi and his partners experienced that the more concretization they show off for the customers about the benefits of saving, the more people who willing to save and the more amount of money that they are willing to put down into their account.

When it comes to Categorize, it is no doubt that we can handle more categories, less choices and we can handle more categories than we can handle choices. Choosing some among hundreds kinds of product is really complicated. However, if these kinds of product divided into groups in accordance with functions, it becomes much easier thing. This is true with almost things.

The last one – Condition for complexity: it turns out we can actually handle a lot more information than we think, we have just got to take it a little easier. People can find out their last limitation by increasing gradually their demands. By this way, we can systematize standards; build a better product or choice.

Combining this system in making decisions can help people feel free and easy to handle the choice-overload problem.

V. Conclusion

As the development of technology, people cannot avoid the problem of overchoice. It occurs with the mass production, and exists at every corner of people’s lives. People suffer from the problem of over choice not only in daily life but also in business and marketing area.  If people have to live in a world with this problem, what can people do to deal with overchoice? People should learn how to analyze the differences between the options as well as the consequences. Moreover, people can try to simplify their option by classifying choices.

References

Toffler, A., (1971), Future Shock

Settle, Robert B. and Golden, Linda L. (1974) ,"Consumer Perceptions: Overchoice in the Market Place", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 01, eds. Scott Ward and Peter Wright, Ann Abor, MI : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 29-37.