Sell More by Adding Variety
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Posted by: Rhette Baughman
People buy more jelly beans when they’re offered an assortment of
colors. This is true even if all the different-colored jelly beans taste
exactly the same. After reviewing 50 experiments that involved more
than 5,000 consumers, researchers at Switzerland’s University of Basel,
Germany’s University of Mannheim, and Indiana University in the U.S.
concluded that the more choices for the shopper, the better.
There are two sorts of product lines where you are especially likely to realize sales increases when you augment variety.
1. Product categories in which you’re seeing a dramatic increase in
sales. These increases are a sign that you could be a destination
location for that sort of merchandise. If you’re selling lots of soccer
equipment, expand the merchandise assortment to draw even more soccer
2. Product categories that are underperforming in sales, compared to
what you’d expect. If you’ve got evidence that other retailers are
selling more baked goods than you, per square foot of merchandise space,
consider expanding the variety of baked goods you offer in that
It’s not enough just to load on variety. It’s essential that you give
the shopper a way to smoothly sort through the choices. Otherwise the
abundance of alternatives will overwhelm and immobilize the shopper. As
you introduce expanded alternatives, give the shopper meaningful
categories to use.
Researchers at Stanford University and Columbia University find that
categories enhance the sense of control by allowing the consumer to give
reasons to themselves for the choices they’re making. For foods and
beverages, the categories might be by taste (coffees are mild, dark
roast, or nutty). For clothing, the categories might be by usage
occasion (leisure, office, party). For power tools and sports equipment,
the categories might be by level of expertise recommended.
Bruce D. Sanders