I recently watched a great TED video by Harvard psychology professor, Dan Gilbert, on happiness, and one of the points that Gilbert made was that people are often happier and more satisfied when they are forced to accept a fait accompli, rather than having free choice.

I have seen it in my own work. I once led the refit of a pharmacy where we halved the selection of headache brands and saw double digit sales growth in that category: the displays were easier to shop and shoppers had less chance of making the ‘wrong’ choice.

There are many other examples. Apple has one smart phone product, but matches the market share of Nokia and Blackberry, who both have countless models, and McDonalds has done pretty well with a limited menu!

But there are still many categories where customers face the tyranny of choice. The number and complexity of add-ons and variations in car purchases, for instance, is enough to make you tear your hair out. Winter packs, summer packs, countless alloy wheels, entertainment and communication centres, stereos and speakers, paint finishes, seat finishes, steering wheel finishes, trim finishes, and even the car’s height are all up for grabs. I long for the day when Apple buys BMW!

Why make your customers dissatisfied? By rationalising your product and service ranges, reducing choice, and ensuring that each offering is the absolute best it can be, you will be making your customers happier.

© Stuart Cross 2011. All rights reserved.