The Paradox of Choice

Buying home appliances is hardly a rivetting experience, but a few companies are succeeding at making it friendlier, easier and… almost enjoyable!

Zanussi product searchZanussi-Electrolux takes a relaxed and friendly tone in presenting the different customer-related options on their Customer Service page.

Zanussi also have a stellar approach to product search. Picking an appliance based on name is impossible – you mean, you don’t know your ZSF2440S from your ZWF1631W? – and the specs all look the same after a while.

Their product search allows you to choose how important certain factors are to you on a scale of 0 to 4, to help narrow down the search to the most useful items. For example, looking at washing machines, it’ll ask you to rate five criteria:

  • I want to use the maximum speed
  • I like to select at the touch of a button what program to use
  • I like to use the best energy performance available
  • I want to wash all of my clothes in one go
  • I wear a lot of clothes that need ironing

Each choice narrows the selection down by greying out the items that don’t meet the criteria you’ve marked as highly important, leaving you with a smaller selection.

Matt from 37signals writes on the positive impact of limiting the consumer’s choice, as opposed to leaving them with too wide a selection.

Offering shoppers samples of six items yields more sales than offering samples of 24, students who are offered six extra credit topics are more likely to write a paper than students who are offered 30, etc. In some cases, just one additional choice can produce outright analysis paralysis. People wind up frozen by indecision.

Washing machines, dishwashers and other home appliances are inevitably going to come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, features and colours, so Zanussi’s useful product search is probably as close as one can get to avoiding paralysis and chronic indecision.

How can you make decisions easier when it comes to your product? Less choice? Better support towards decision?

[Note: This blog post isn’t entirely new, and was written last year for another blog project I never formally launched. If you come across it elsewhere, it isn’t because I stole it from another author 🙂 ]