As a kid, I never understood the adage "less is more". That's probably because when we're young, we think everything is pretty great. And a greater amount of great things can only be... greater.
Two bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal was better than one. A full hour of recess was more exciting than 15 minutes. And a marathon of Saturday morning cartoons was far superior to a single episode.
As we age, we grow wiser (well, most of us do... maybe not Charlie Sheen), and we learn to appreciate the value of "less". Less traffic during rush hour, fewer bills cluttering our coffee tables, less belly fat, less stress... all good things.
Are you familiar with the "jam experiment"? It's a classic psychology study involving jars of jam; I think its findings clearly support the notion that "less is more".
The "jam experiment" was conducted by Sheena Iyengar, a researcher for Stanford University at the time of the study. Iyengar sought to understand how people make choices, and she looked to the grocery store as a prime location for observation. Her research assistants posed as jam suppliers, setting up tables for sampling.
In one version of the experiment, the sampling table offered six flavors for tasting: kiwi, marmalade, peach, black cherry, red currant and lemon curd. In another condition, twenty-four jam flavors were set out. In both versions, customers were encouraged to sample flavors and were given a coupon to buy a jar at discount.
Can you guess what happened?
The twenty-four flavor table attracted the most attention, but it actually reported smaller sales than the six-flavor table. Only 3% of shoppers who visited the twenty-four flavor table proceeded to buy jam. Compare that to the six flavor table: 30% of visitors left with a jar in hand.
The study concluded that twenty-four was an overwhelming number of flavors for shoppers. Unable to make a decision, tasters gave up and left empty-handed.
This study teaches us that it's good to have options, but too many options can be a bad thing. In promotional products, where the set of options for a particular product category can easily reach six or seven digits, we really understand and appreciate the value of "less". In fact, limiting choices for our clients is arguably one of the greatest services we provide.
You'll notice that the number of products featured on our Signature Collection website typically hovers around 2,000. The selection is updated on a daily basis to reflect popular trends, but the overall volume of choices stays consistent. 2,000 is still a big number, but when you compare it to the millions of products to which we have access, it's not so daunting. Think of it as our version of the six flavor table.
Relying on our knowledge of popular trends, supplier capabilities, and product quality, we aim to guide our clients to sound product decisions, as painlessly as possible. In general, we define a painless process as one without an overwhelming sea of choice. Should you be a twenty-four flavor sort of person, though, just let us know. We're happy to oblige!
What are your thoughts on the "jam experiment"? Are you the kind of person who likes a lot of options? Or do you prefer a smaller consideration set?