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Presenting choice wisely is increasingly important in the retail sector because choice is expanding. Many choices are of little importance and are made in a matter of seconds when the customer is confronted with the assortment. Therefore, in store presentation can have great influence on the amount of mental energy people expend in deciding, whether or not they decide and what product is chosen. In the western world choice is perceived as desirable and there are various pressures for more choice. Preference for choice is however not only related strongly to culture, but also to personality, involvement and context among others. The amount of variety offered profoundly affects peoples purchasing behavior by fostering indecision especially when customers are unsure about their preferences. Assortment size also affects decision confidence and post-purchase satisfaction. Presenting choice can be most effectively done when products are organized according to the consumer’s decision tree, thereby forming the customer’s choice set and limiting the amount of choices consciously made.
This paper presents two empirical studies in addition to the extensive literature review. The first study explores similarities and differences in Dutch and American attitudes toward choice in retailers through an application of the tripartite attitude theory. It shows that Dutch more often than Americans find that there is too much choice and feel less benefitted by having choice. Furthermore, it provides support for the assumption that reactions to choice are based on largely the same perceptions and believes. The second research furthers the cross-cultural comparison by analyzing assortment evaluations, indecision and choice satisfaction in more detail. For the American sample many results from previous research were duplicated. The Dutch sample, however, gives reason to believe Dutch reactions to choice are fundamentally different and more negative. Further investigations of Dutch perceptions of and reactions to choice showed that Dutch experience many of the benefits and drawbacks of choice found by American research. Furthermore, it provides insight into presentation effects in retailers, stressing the importance of appropriate assortments and assortment organization.