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Thought Leadership & Enablement
February 23, 2023

Uncomplicate Your Marketing: The Science of De-Selection

Making consumers crave your products is part of the job; the other part is keeping them focused and helping them make it easy to buy your products.

Jed Schneiderman
VP & Country Manager, Canada

Remember the jam experiment? 

Well, here is a refresher.

 In 2000, Prof. Sheena Iyengar (Columbia University) and Prof. Mark Lepper (Stanford University) published a paper “When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?” (You can find it HERE

Their paper was based on a jam experiment. 

On one day, at a supermarket, they offered consumers the chance to sample from 24 varieties of jam. On another day, at the very same supermarket, they were sampling 6 varieties of jams. The study showed that the table with less choice (6 varieties) was 10x more likely to drive sales than the larger display (24 varieties). 

The key take-away: Choice might generate more interest and appeal but it can overload consumers and result in lower purchase volume. And it also leads to lower levels of satisfaction.

The Paradox of Choice. 

Hang on a second. 

So if this principle works in the real world, why do most web-sites and digital properties ignore this proven principle? 

(Let’s not name names here - our lawyers have not reviewed this article).

It’s possible that many marketers have not read this paper (I confess - I only skimmed it!) but now that you know the results, what is a marketer to do? 

The answer: The principle of de-selection. 

Your job - specifically in a digital context - is to help consumers make quicker and easier choices by making it easier for them to compare alternatives. Or when they don’t have a preference, make it easy for them to shop. 

Let’s take a real example: MARMOT

Marmot created a jacket finder on their web-site. The first choice is shopping for a jacket for MEN or WOMEN. If you select WOMEN, you de-select all options for MEN. It seems obvious when it is written out - but think about it: approximately 50% of the choices are taken off the table. By then choosing preferred features, type of activity, and weather, the shopper is taken to a select few product recommendations. 

Sound familiar? 

It is what happens when you walk into a store and a good salesperson helps you. Some call it “Guided Selling” while others call it “Decision Support” -  baked into the process is the art of “De-Selection”.

If you don’t like RED jackets, a good sales associate won’t show you RED jackets. 

In the case of Marmot, it worked!  

*They saw a +47% lift in conversions

*They saw +34% lift in average order value 

*They saw a +18% lift in time spent on-site

*With an 89% quiz completion rate, they saw a 8.5x ROI 

The lesson for marketers: Less is more. Guide your site visitors; don’t make them do all the work. 

Leverage “De-Selection” to get more out of your site and drive better results. 

Jed Schneiderman
VP & Country Manager, Canada

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