Warning: too much choice can lead to ethical-consumer paralysis!
A famous experiment offered consumers a choice of either 6 or 24 different flavored jams with a discount for purchase*. We think more choice is always better – but consumers were 10 times more likely to buy a jar of jam when they only had to choose from 6 options.
The experiment, which has been replicated for other products in different circumstances, suggested that too many choices can lead us to walk away, making no choice at all.
It’s not just buying jam. When overwhelmed by choice, picking can be tricky no matter the product or issue.
Once you start looking, it’s easy to find options and advice about how to make more sustainable consumer decisions. But it isn’t always simple to work out what action to take. We have competing desires and drives. There’s lots of information but no easy way to rank its importance or assess its accuracy. There seems to be an awful lot of things we should be doing – the temptation is to think that we can’t do them all, so why do any?