The tyranny of choice

In which the contrast of flavours becomes too much.

Cans of beer

Heinz, your 57 varieties are 55 too many. Coca-Cola stick with full fat and diet (and a little Zero, Vanilla, Lime…). Samsung just have a big and little version of the Galaxy smartphone (and the billion of variations). The world is complicated enough without the constant increase in choice we are offered as consumers.

The insidious idea that companies should cater to every customer whim means that there are million different SKUs in the hope that it in some way matches 100% with consumer demand. Instead we the public decide that even if a product meets 95% of our demands we get all uppity and want to know why we can’t have something more.

We have all become Verruca Salts.

Most of the time soup, soft drinks or mobiles will meet our needs (not that having a smartphone is on Maslov’s hierarchy) so why do we have to be given the choice to have something that is ever so slightly different?

If I am having tomato soup then I don’t want to decide between tomato & basil, Plum Tomato Basil Soup with Creme Fraiche, Tomato and Butterbean, Tomato with Fiery Mexican Spices, Tomato with a Kick of Chilli or Organic Cream of Tomato. These are all varieties offered by Heinz but all I want is the simple ‘classic’ red gloop. Which I can then add Worcestershire sauce to. What I don’t understand is why they messed with Oxtail soup and added carrots, you give me plenty of choice with others but why are vegetables being forced on me?

Stop hiding the fact there are chunks of carrots in there, more veg than meat

As I sit at my desk I can see a tub of Celebrations that hold eight mini versions of the most popular Mars snacks. Of this I can guarantee that the Maltesers will be gone in seconds, while the Bounty will take a while to disappear. All that will be left are the Milky Way (or Three Musketeers for my American readers) as nobody really likes these. So from the 750g of chocolates there are 93.75 g of wasted options.

Stop making my life more complicated, make it simpler. I know I could just ignore the other options but I don’t want to put the effort in to the be ignorant of the multitude of products on offer. I didn’t make the problem and I have no control over the solution, I have tried not buying the Sundried tomatoes with organic basil and a splash of Devon cream but it still resides on the shelves. All I want is less flavours.

Henry Ford got it right when he said that “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”

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Source: Contrast

Author: geekergosum

Ah, so you worked out the riddle. You just needed to use dwarfish and the doors to Geek Ergo Sum opened. Or perhaps you just used Google. Either way you are here, on my little corner of the Internet.

11 thoughts on “The tyranny of choice”

    1. I work in marketing and one of the ideas we have to think about is the ‘tyranny of choice’. You need to provide some options, but if you have too much then the consumer starts to want something more exacting that may not be provided.


  1. But, what are Verruca Salts? Cultural gap here. I need to reblog this, Geeker. Hope I can find the right button. Can’t see it above. I’ll play around a bit. Really, really well done. If you are interested in submitting it for publication, I can give you a lead… Judy


    1. Verucca Salt is a character from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. She is a spoilt child who wants everything, and wants it now.

      That would be really cool if you did have a lead, I keep threatening Mrs G that I would get something published (her fear that my rants would reach a wider audience!)


  2. Haha! As someone who works for one of the companies you speak about I could provide some of your feedback to the Marketing and R&D department! However, I did once dismiss an innovation that is one of our biggest sellers so they tend not to really listen to me anymore…!


    1. I have the same issue with our marketing (I now work for a company with over 8,000 skus). I consider this the Pokemon problem, there are hundreds to choose from but most are going to select Pikachu or a bulbasaur. The rest are just filler pokemon


  3. Geeker, send your manuscript to He is editor of the Ojo del Lago, the second largest English language newspaper/magazine in Mexico. It does not pay, but it has a wide distribution in both print and online. If you like, check it out online. Just Google Ojo del Lago and you can find every issue. Locally in the Guadalajara/Ajijic/Lake Chapala area it is also published in print. Mention my name (Judy Dykstra-Brown) and say I’ve recommended you submit the piece to him. Be sure to put your name and contact information on the .doc or .docx document as well as in your email. Please let me know what happens. Judy


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