Finding the Ideal Marketing Strategy in the Age of Choice

By Michael Foster

Choice is a powerful tool. The foundation of our democracy is based on choice.

Similarly, markets operate only when there is a choice. Being able to choose between options makes us feel good. We feel empowered, in control and free. Choice is such a powerful and useful tool that despots and dictators create the illusion of choice to make people feel better about being imprisoned and enslaved. Monopolies do the same thing, trying to encourage consumers to think they really have a choice when they don’t.

At the same time, too much choice can be a bad thing. One of the groundbreaking revelations of behavioral psychology in the last 20 years is that when people are faced with too many options, they become paralyzed and uncertain. Suddenly they begin to doubt themselves and don’t know what to do. They begin to fear making the wrong choice. In many cases, people give up and want someone else to make a choice for them, or they make a choice based upon poorer criteria than what they’d use if they had fewer choices.

The worst part: When there’s too much choice, people tend to regret the choice they made and are more unhappy with what they have than if they had fewer options when they began.

There is clearly a balance to strike between too many and too few options. This sweet spot is one of the key secrets of product development that marketers have known for decades, and now we have the science to back it up. At the same time, we want to make options for people that appeal to them on a deep, intrinsic level because they are always facing too many choices, and we want to cut through the confusion and doubt of a complex, fractured world by creating and showcasing a product that screams “I am the best!” to anyone who sees it.

Apple is great at this. The elegant, minimalist Apple Stores rewrote the rules of retail sales and encouraged dozens of copycats. The sleek lines and highly designed contours of Apple products have also focused on people’s instinctual preference for beautiful objects. That’s why Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world with one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

But their success is not impossible to replicate. It’s just a matter of understanding the psychology of choice.

That’s the key theme of one of the sessions at this year’s DMA Email Evolution conference, where e4Marketing CMO Jeanette McMurtry will discuss “The Psychology of Choice: Understanding the Science of Why We Do What We Do and Buy What We Buy.”

McMurtry will focus on how you can create a psychologically relevant message and customer experience that will drive long-term marketing ROI and revenues while also building brand recognition and loyalty among your existing and potential customer bases. The session will focus on the psychology of consumer behavior to help you understand what your customers really think when they make their choices and how you can drill into their unconscious mind to get them to pick you and your product.

Join us at this year’s Email Evolution Conference as we unpack the psychology of marketing and help you choose a winning strategy for your company.

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Email Evolution Conference, May 1-3, 2017, in New Orleans.