The curse of choice paralysis

29th October 2015

Logic dictates that having lots of options should be good for consumers. After-all isn’t this what people want – more choice?

The simple answer is no, not always.

We work across various food and drink categories and often hear how too much choice can hamper experimentation and reinforce habitual behaviours.  It is not unusual to hear consumers say in response to a question about what’s new on shelf, ‘I have never seen that before’… Could it be that giving consumers freedom of choice is actually creating choice paralysis? And when faced with a wall of ‘me too’ products, the strategy is to “stick to what I know”.

According to Marketing Week, 3 out of 4 FMCG new product launches fail in the first year. It is interesting that there is much talk now of supermarkets rationalising ranges and pushing brands to justify their space on shelf with genuine NPD. It is no longer sufficient to run with ‘me too’ products, which, from a consumer perspective, is like ‘wallpaper’ with little cut-through.     We echo the observations in this week’s Grocer “It’s time that big brands learnt that they can’t rely on safe NPD : a new pack format here, a tweak to flavour here…the sort of thing that will squeeze out a little extra value for minimal risk”.  Shoppers are savvy enough to tell the difference between EPD and NPD.

If consumer insight is at the heart of NPD then brands can be sure of genuine NPD ‘stickiness’.  Our One-MS Concept Kitchen™ methodology is an effective way of separating NPD wheat from the chaff to understand which ideas have genuine potential to make a difference to consumers’ lives.

Using this technique we have contributed to gaining vastly improved quant scores in cooking sauces and convenience vegetables, especially on key adoption measures such as purchase intent and potential for long term product loyalty.  All of which helps with the retailer sell in.