Combating Choice Fatigue in Customers

“When you think of the blur of all the brands that are out there, the ones you believe in and the ones you remember, like Chanel and Armani, are the ones that stand for something,” – Ralph Lauren

Choice fatigue is a by-product of the extensive and ever-expanding range of products and services that are on offer in much of the civilized world. The phenomenon has its roots in major events such as the Industrial Revolution and economic (and cultural) globalization that wrought significant changes in the world economy. Global and local markets have managed to create high-quality production processes and standards that have generated a surfeit of choice for the customer – in terms of clothing, food and beverages, automobiles, furniture, footwear, luxury goods, financial services, media consumption, and electronic appliances, to name a few. Mass media has worked assiduously to transmit these choices to the average customer. Meanwhile, commercial competition has worked to lower the prices of such goods and services – to the effect that the customer faces a bewildering range to choose from. This multiplicity has afflicted most sectors of the global economy. We could say that choice fatigue inhibits a customer’s ability to process information and arrive at a purchase decision.

In light of the above, we may state that the modern business enterprise has a significant role in helping customers to combat choice fatigue. Every business should take an active role in reaching out to customers and delineate the benefits of a product or service. We could say that such duties can be included within the ambit of corporate social responsibility, because reducing choice fatigue can begin by educating the customer. An informed customer can make enlightened choices in terms of what he or she wishes to pay for. Further, such a reduction can also help to soften the impact of high-powered commercial marketing activities on the health of this planet and its natural environment. We could say that businesses may be required to re-think and re-evaluate the customer from a merely statistical entity to a live, breathing, thinking individual. Therefore, a long-term engagement with customers can be nurtured by public outreach programmes on the part of the corporate entity. The benefits of such action can be manifest in winning the customer’s trust, loyalty, and goodwill.

Customer education can be marked as a primary aim of a business enterprise. This should be included in the corporate mission and values statement that every business displays on its website and business premises. A business should approach such initiatives with missionary zeal because these actions are in the long-term interests of any corporate house. New products and services are being fashioned every day, but we have to realise that these have high potential to add to the confusion that every customer faces every day. A confused customer may fall prey to marketing campaigns and may make purchase decisions that may not be aligned with his or her requirements. A flawed decision can burden the customer with a sub-optimal product or service that may lead to a sub-par end-user experience. Such mechanics can lead to a situation, wherein a customer is less than satisfied and may choose to take his custom to a different brand or manufacturer in the future. The resultant loss of customer trust can be bad for business and therefore, the business enterprise must plan ahead to pre-empt such situations.

Choice fatigue can also arise from inadequate or sub-standard customer service. We have to consider the fact that every customer may not be vocal about such services, but may silently decide to spend his money elsewhere. This could cause untold damage to a business enterprise; therefore, businesses should be sensitive enough to create a competent customer service experience for every individual customer. When such standards are achieved consistently, the customer is less likely to seek other brands and other services. The outcome of such experiences also tends to reduce choice fatigue among customers. However, it must be noted that every business has a duty to offer upgrades in their products and services in the interests of retaining customers. Such actions can help to excise the possibility of the competition wooing a customer away from a business with the lure of the latest offerings in the market.

In its pursuit to help customers overcome choice fatigue, a business enterprise can create innovative buyback programmes. Consider this: severe recessionary trends may force a slowdown in customer expenditure. Every business in the economy is impacted by such trends because customers may be undergoing job losses and therefore are choosing to curtail expenditure on non-essential items. In such a situation where business confidence is severely dented, a car manufacturer may choose to address customer requirements during the recession. The manufacturer could design a car buyback programme under which customers can sell their cars back to the company that makes these vehicles. We may say that this single gesture has the power to ignite customer confidence and spark a car-buying trend. Business history bears witness to the fact, that the programme actually helped to assure the customer and was instrumental in marking an uptick in vehicle sales. We could say that such innovation on the part of business enterprises can help the customer to combat choice fatigue and arrive at a legitimate purchase decision.

Helping customers to reduce confusion and overcome the paralysis that springs from confronting a plethora of choices can be helpful to a business. Every business should treat its customers as assets that can help the enterprise to rise above the mundane. A fine appreciation of such thoughts should inform the senior management and every employee of the business enterprise. Consider this: a shampoo manufacturer can recognize and acknowledge the many choices that can confuse a customer shopping for the said product. The sheer range of shampoos available in the market can overwhelm the senses and create confusion in shopping centres. The said manufacturer can easily classify its products to address the different types of human hair. This effort automatically reduces the categories of product on display and enables the customer to make an informed choice. The logic of commerce would indicate that such a manufacturer would gain enhanced mindshare among customers and hence, greater sales of the said product.

The text in the above paragraphs illustrates how enterprises can help customers to overcome choice fatigue. The many approaches to solve this real problem can be evaluated by the outcomes as perceived in the real world. Any enterprise worth the name should think in terms of long-term profits and must continuously affirm its sense of social responsibility. These objectives cannot be achieved in a day and therefore, the business must work relentlessly to inform, nurture, and grow the customer. This should pay long-term business dividends because the loyal customer is more likely to bring in other customers to the business. We must bear in mind that choice represents a wonderful thing, but choice must be modulated so that customers can find the product or service they truly require. Businesses can lend a helping hand in such matters thereby winning the customer’s loyalty. Clearly, such outcomes benefit both the customer and the business; the latter can also gain insights into the mind of the customer as a part of the positive outcome.


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