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Is Your Food & Beverage Product Causing Choice Paralysis?

As consumers, we tend to think that the more options we have to choose from, the better, as it gives us more freedom. But the reality is different.

Is Your Food & Beverage Product Causing Choice Paralysis?

Article written in collaboration with Fernando Arendar of Nitid Studio.

According to estimates by the market research company Nielsen, FMCG companies launched 9700 new products during the pandemic. This is an increase of almost 35% compared to 7200 new launches in the same period last year. 


As consumers, we tend to think that the more options we have to choose from, the better, as it gives us more freedom. But the reality is different. Here I will explain why.


Have you ever stood in an aisle and could not decide between 50 different products? Well, hardly anyone who has ever visited a medium or large supermarket could avoid feeling overwhelmed by this situation. For this, we need to understand that, in the first 20 minutes of shopping, we are exposed to more than 20 thousand products. Sounds overwhelming, right? It is therefore predictable that, at some point, we will become paralyzed by the oversaturation of options. This inability to decide is called "choice paralysis". It is a theory developed by Barry Schwartz in his book "The Paradox of Choice" (2004).


What Schwartz describes in a nutshell, is that this growing array of different options ends up causing us to feel regret, anxiety, and insecurity. We might feel that our decision was not the best or we are missing a better alternative. We also tend to raise our expectations and demands for products or services because we think that if there are so many options, each one should be better than the other.


One of the studies that brought this to light was the "Jam Study". The "Jam Study" is one of the most famous experiments in consumer psychology. The study shows exactly when a smaller supply can increase sales. It was conducted by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper at the upscale Draeger's Market and found that consumers were 10 times more likely to purchase jam on display when the number of jams offered was reduced from 24 to 6.


Below are 5 key points on how to increase sales by overcoming choice paralysis:


  1. Try to avoid overcrowded categories

Before you launch your product, make sure that the category is not overcrowded. And if it is, look at the design, packaging, materials or shapes that most brands use and try to go in a different direction.


  1. Limit your choices

Do not launch your product with too many variants or SKUs. In fact, it's much easier to test the brand's performance on the shelf with a limited portfolio.


  1. Break down the choice

If you already have a portfolio, you can divide it into segments, either on the online store by grouping products into "best sellers", for example, or on the shelf by creating secondary packs with different varieties.


  1. Make the options distinguishable

Make sure that flavors’ names and products’ designs are clearly distinguishable from each other. For example, avoid similar flavors such as "Swiss Chocolate" and "Chocolate with Caramel".


  1. Encourage fast decision making

It is important that consumers know your products before they arrive at the aisle, and that they know what varieties they will find and what the differences are, so that they can make a decision at the moment of selection without much thought.


We need to be aware that our brain manages our “body budget”, as Lisa Feldman Barrett would say. Therefore, any stimulus that requires a lot of energy, whether for evaluation or thinking, is likely to be discarded. The clearer and simpler the product information is, and the easier it is recognized, the more likely it is to be sold.


Have questions about packaging design for your food & beverage product? Nitid Studio can help! Feel free to connect with Fernando HERE.

Article written in collaboration with Fernando Arendar of Nitid Studio.

According to estimates by the market research company Nielsen, FMCG companies launched 9700 new products during the pandemic. This is an increase of almost 35% compared to 7200 new launches in the same period last year. 


As consumers, we tend to think that the more options we have to choose from, the better, as it gives us more freedom. But the reality is different. Here I will explain why.


Have you ever stood in an aisle and could not decide between 50 different products? Well, hardly anyone who has ever visited a medium or large supermarket could avoid feeling overwhelmed by this situation. For this, we need to understand that, in the first 20 minutes of shopping, we are exposed to more than 20 thousand products. Sounds overwhelming, right? It is therefore predictable that, at some point, we will become paralyzed by the oversaturation of options. This inability to decide is called "choice paralysis". It is a theory developed by Barry Schwartz in his book "The Paradox of Choice" (2004).


What Schwartz describes in a nutshell, is that this growing array of different options ends up causing us to feel regret, anxiety, and insecurity. We might feel that our decision was not the best or we are missing a better alternative. We also tend to raise our expectations and demands for products or services because we think that if there are so many options, each one should be better than the other.


One of the studies that brought this to light was the "Jam Study". The "Jam Study" is one of the most famous experiments in consumer psychology. The study shows exactly when a smaller supply can increase sales. It was conducted by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper at the upscale Draeger's Market and found that consumers were 10 times more likely to purchase jam on display when the number of jams offered was reduced from 24 to 6.


Below are 5 key points on how to increase sales by overcoming choice paralysis:


  1. Try to avoid overcrowded categories

Before you launch your product, make sure that the category is not overcrowded. And if it is, look at the design, packaging, materials or shapes that most brands use and try to go in a different direction.


  1. Limit your choices

Do not launch your product with too many variants or SKUs. In fact, it's much easier to test the brand's performance on the shelf with a limited portfolio.


  1. Break down the choice

If you already have a portfolio, you can divide it into segments, either on the online store by grouping products into "best sellers", for example, or on the shelf by creating secondary packs with different varieties.


  1. Make the options distinguishable

Make sure that flavors’ names and products’ designs are clearly distinguishable from each other. For example, avoid similar flavors such as "Swiss Chocolate" and "Chocolate with Caramel".


  1. Encourage fast decision making

It is important that consumers know your products before they arrive at the aisle, and that they know what varieties they will find and what the differences are, so that they can make a decision at the moment of selection without much thought.


We need to be aware that our brain manages our “body budget”, as Lisa Feldman Barrett would say. Therefore, any stimulus that requires a lot of energy, whether for evaluation or thinking, is likely to be discarded. The clearer and simpler the product information is, and the easier it is recognized, the more likely it is to be sold.


Have questions about packaging design for your food & beverage product? Nitid Studio can help! Feel free to connect with Fernando HERE.

Article written in collaboration with Fernando Arendar of Nitid Studio.

According to estimates by the market research company Nielsen, FMCG companies launched 9700 new products during the pandemic. This is an increase of almost 35% compared to 7200 new launches in the same period last year. 


As consumers, we tend to think that the more options we have to choose from, the better, as it gives us more freedom. But the reality is different. Here I will explain why.


Have you ever stood in an aisle and could not decide between 50 different products? Well, hardly anyone who has ever visited a medium or large supermarket could avoid feeling overwhelmed by this situation. For this, we need to understand that, in the first 20 minutes of shopping, we are exposed to more than 20 thousand products. Sounds overwhelming, right? It is therefore predictable that, at some point, we will become paralyzed by the oversaturation of options. This inability to decide is called "choice paralysis". It is a theory developed by Barry Schwartz in his book "The Paradox of Choice" (2004).


What Schwartz describes in a nutshell, is that this growing array of different options ends up causing us to feel regret, anxiety, and insecurity. We might feel that our decision was not the best or we are missing a better alternative. We also tend to raise our expectations and demands for products or services because we think that if there are so many options, each one should be better than the other.


One of the studies that brought this to light was the "Jam Study". The "Jam Study" is one of the most famous experiments in consumer psychology. The study shows exactly when a smaller supply can increase sales. It was conducted by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper at the upscale Draeger's Market and found that consumers were 10 times more likely to purchase jam on display when the number of jams offered was reduced from 24 to 6.


Below are 5 key points on how to increase sales by overcoming choice paralysis:


  1. Try to avoid overcrowded categories

Before you launch your product, make sure that the category is not overcrowded. And if it is, look at the design, packaging, materials or shapes that most brands use and try to go in a different direction.


  1. Limit your choices

Do not launch your product with too many variants or SKUs. In fact, it's much easier to test the brand's performance on the shelf with a limited portfolio.


  1. Break down the choice

If you already have a portfolio, you can divide it into segments, either on the online store by grouping products into "best sellers", for example, or on the shelf by creating secondary packs with different varieties.


  1. Make the options distinguishable

Make sure that flavors’ names and products’ designs are clearly distinguishable from each other. For example, avoid similar flavors such as "Swiss Chocolate" and "Chocolate with Caramel".


  1. Encourage fast decision making

It is important that consumers know your products before they arrive at the aisle, and that they know what varieties they will find and what the differences are, so that they can make a decision at the moment of selection without much thought.


We need to be aware that our brain manages our “body budget”, as Lisa Feldman Barrett would say. Therefore, any stimulus that requires a lot of energy, whether for evaluation or thinking, is likely to be discarded. The clearer and simpler the product information is, and the easier it is recognized, the more likely it is to be sold.


Have questions about packaging design for your food & beverage product? Nitid Studio can help! Feel free to connect with Fernando HERE.

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