Consumers, in particular American consumers, believe in an abundance of choices. After all, it’s in our national DNA. We want freedom—especially the freedom to have what we want when we want it, and in the color, flavor, and size that we want.
In theory, endless options seem appealing. In reality, it can be paralyzing. Studies have shown that a plethora of choices can often lead to a fear of making the wrong or less than optimal choice (literally FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out)—which then turns into doubt and even anxiety.
In a famous experiment in consumer psychology, two social scientists demonstrated that offering consumers fewer choices can actually result in a better chance to make a sale. They found that when shoppers were presented with a display of jam varieties, individuals were 10 times more likely to purchase a jam if the number of jams displayed was reduced from 24 varieties to only six. Comparable results were found in similar studies conducted with other products, including chocolates, financial services, and even speed dating. In short, choice overload leads to decision fatigue—and, ultimately, reluctance to make a purchase.
So how does this apply to brand positioning? Too often, marketers fall victim to the temptation of making their brand stand for additional and unnecessary things.
The dangers of being “all things to all people” are usually recognized, but indecisive marketers often feel the need to position their brand as “the only thing that gives you A (as well as a healthy dose of B, and some C as well).” The power of A gets diluted and ultimately drowned out by B and C, and by your competitors who are saying B and C too, as well as D, E, F, and so on. By saying so much, you end up with a position that leaves you with little meaningful impact on prospects.
By sticking with a single powerful claim for your brand, you make it easier for your audiences to remember you over less emphatically positioned competitors. Remember the jam experiment and avoid spreading yourself too thin.