Borat & The Paradox of Choice

Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice, has a lot to say about marketing. The book’s premise is that when consumers have too many choices in a category, they tend not to make a choice

The book cites a simple, but elegant, research project in which consumers were given an opportunity to sample jams.

In the first leg of research, consumers had a choice of six varieties of jam and 30 percent of consumers made a purchase.

In the second leg of research, consumers had a choice of 24 jams and only three percent made a purchase.

This issue appears to be that consumers tend to become overwhelmed with too many choices and do not buy.

The problem of overwhelming choices is vividly illustrated in the movie, Borat. A clip is available at youtube  in which Borat walks the length of a grocery store dairy case with a store manager.

The dialog is the repeated question, "what is this?". The consistent reply is "cheese". It illustrates the overwhelming choices in a single food category – cheese.


To us, the larger issue is reasonable choices versus overwhelming choices.

As marketers, the challenge is to create a distinctive array of products with clear positioning and benefits.   

How many times each week to we all hear someone refer to a product as simply a "different flavor"?

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