Executive Briefings

Retail Fights Back: Too Many Product Choices Dampen Sales

You see them haunting the store aisles: They are upright and breathing, but they barely move. Their eyes are glazed, their shoulders droop, sometimes they drool. Yes, these shoppers are paralyzed by too much choice, confused and overwhelmed by all the seemingly identical options. At one local drugstore, there are 25 different ear plugs, 75 types of eye drops and 256 kinds of deodorant. If your head explodes, there are 248 varieties of shampoo.

The good news? That shampoo aisle is about to shrink. For the first time in recent memory, retailers are pruning their selection to semi-manageable levels. Walgreens and Rite-Aid are eliminating nearly 5,000 products. Kroger slashed its cereal selection 30 percent. Even Wal-Mart cut its hardware and toy selections. It's about time. Studies have repeatedly shown that too much choice drives consumers crazy-and actually dampens sales.

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You see them haunting the store aisles: They are upright and breathing, but they barely move. Their eyes are glazed, their shoulders droop, sometimes they drool. Yes, these shoppers are paralyzed by too much choice, confused and overwhelmed by all the seemingly identical options. At one local drugstore, there are 25 different ear plugs, 75 types of eye drops and 256 kinds of deodorant. If your head explodes, there are 248 varieties of shampoo.

The good news? That shampoo aisle is about to shrink. For the first time in recent memory, retailers are pruning their selection to semi-manageable levels. Walgreens and Rite-Aid are eliminating nearly 5,000 products. Kroger slashed its cereal selection 30 percent. Even Wal-Mart cut its hardware and toy selections. It's about time. Studies have repeatedly shown that too much choice drives consumers crazy-and actually dampens sales.

Read Full Article