Executive Update

The Powerful Art of Choosing

Dr. Sheena Iyengar, professor of business at Columbia University, research director of the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of National Business and author of the award-winning, critically acclaimed book, “The Art of Choosing,” spoke about how making choices plays a central role in our daily lives. 

In today’s world, we tend to have choice overload. But in Iyengar’s research, she found that the more choices we have, the more likely we are to make no choice, make worse choices, or feel less satisfied with the choices we make, including within the food and beverage industry.

“In 1949, there were approximately 3700 products in a grocery store. Today, there are approximately 25,000. But more choices is not necessarily better,” explained Iyengar.

For example, in a grocery store there were two booths set up featuring flavored jams; one, with six different jam options, and one with 24 different jam options. Sixty percent of people were more likely to stop and sample the jam at the booth with more options, compared to 40 percent at the booth with fewer options. However, only three percent of those that stopped at the booth with more options purchased jam, compared to 30 percent at the booth with fewer options.

 “Cut the redundant alternatives. Cut irrelevant alternatives. Cut the ones nobody can tell apart, because more is often less,” said Iyengar.