Share ideas that inspire. FALLON PLANNERS (and co-conspirators) are freely invited to post trends, commentary, obscure ephemera and insightful rants regarding the experience of branding.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Choice is in the eye of the beholder

i've been reading barry schwartz's book "the paradox of choice," and while its way more boring than a pop-psychology/mass market business book hybrid should be (does gladwell do ghost writing gigs?), his argument is really striking a chord with me.

and then, lo and behold, he writes an article in this past sunday's NY Times magazine that pretty much sums up a lot of what the book talks about. i'd recommend reading for two reasons:

1. you won't have to read the book
2. it points out a valuable distinction about social class and how different people react to the abundance of choice they are offered as consumers (i.e. middle class people get upset when their neighbor buys the same car as them because it makes them feel less special, but lower class people are reassured by it because it makes them feel like they made the right decision)


Tim said...

I read it too and I agree it´s he repeats his point over and over. Nevertheless it´s good to have in your bookshelf because it has some good explanations which you can quote in your presentations.

Adrian said...

This is the same thesis that Daniel Gilbert had in his APG speeh from a few years back.

Lachlan said...

A similar (but in some ways opposite) thing happens in packaged goods... at least that's what TGI data from a few years back seemed to show in the UK...

Essentially lower educated and lower income families were more likely to buy the premium branded cpg (fmcg) products while higher income, higher education level bought more own/private-label.

The thinking there was three fold:

One: the higher end of education meant they are a little more savvy and know that the private label is probably coming off the same production lines as the major brand. (this also makes them feel a little smart too)

Two: if you drive a BMW and own a fuck off house in a nice area, you don't attach any social or personal statement to the brand of detergent or baked beans you buy (where as lower income might, as it might be seen a direct reflection of their income).

Three: If you really are making a choice of Baked beans based on budget - you can't risk the rest of the family telling you're they're crap and don't want to eat them, (what you buy HAS to do the job), so there is more security in the pricier branded product... again a safe choice, just like the car.

A. said...


yeah, but isn't the point really just that baked beans are totally gross? private label or brand name, you'll never catch me eating that crap. marmite either.

El Gaffney said...

i wonder which group experiences buyer's remorse more often. upper and middle class are more confident, but also make more high ticket purchases and more unique, less-proven products. plus, they may do more research beforehand and after - know that the laptop they just bought was outdated a minute later. and they'll overthink things. however, the less wealthy group may stress over the money they spent and buy less high-quality products that break down on them. and it's a marmot not marmite.

Lachlan said...
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