How She Overcomes Decision Debilitation

By Crystal Markowski

It isn’t news that consumers have endless options in today’s marketplace. The ability to customize a product or service to exact personal wants or needs has in fact offered a competitive advantage for many brands. But what does that really mean? More choices the consumer has to make. When I read Dave Pell’s NPR blog post about the existence of too many technology choices, this reality sunk in and made me realize: Having to make all of these buying decisions can cause real anxiety for shoppers.

In this blog post “Consumed by Consumption, Now I Can’t Decide What to Buy,” Dave sums up what a lot of us feel when presented with too many choices – confusion. This wondering and indecision brought about by so many options is all too familiar to me. In fact, just yesterday as I sat down to lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant, I was confronted with four pages of meal options numbered one through one hundred and five. Even after deciding where I was going to dine, I still had to mull over more than a hundred options before I could eat lunch! If situations like these can make one feel confused and even paralyzed, then how do women, makers of 80% of purchase decisions, deal with this bombardment of choices on a daily basis?

From talking with women in our studies, it seems that many often streamline day-to-day decision making through shortcuts, whether they are aware of it or not. When situations present women with thousands of options, they have simple techniques to narrow their selection quickly. Some women may have a strategy for choosing based on what’s most important to them – “It’s what’s on sale this week.” Others may rely on habit or emotions to eliminate the effort of deciding – “This is the brand my mother used to buy.”

Savvy marketers are aware of this and try to understand how women use their shortcuts to make buying decisions. Quickly calling out a particular feature that’s important to her can make the difference between making the sale, or being quickly eliminated from her consideration set. Now, if only I could find a shortcut to help me decide what’s for lunch.

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