Millennials and the Paradox of Choice - David Leung
MILLENNIALS AND THE
PARADOX OF CHOICE
The Original “Jam Study”
• Conducted at a upscale Bay-area supermarket by
psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper, found
that consumers were 10 times more likely to purchase
jam on display when the number of jams available were
reduced from 24 to 6.
• This phenomenon has be replicated in a variety of product
categories from chocolate to financial services to speed
dating and is known as “the Paradox of choice”
• It’s a paradox because rationally speaking the more
choice you offer your customers, the more sales you
should make simply because you’d be satisfying more
The Original “Jam Study”
• These replicated studies confirmed that more choice isn’t
always better. Excessive choice not only produces “choice
paralysis” but also that it can reduce people’s satisfaction
with their decisions, even if they made good ones.
• Nevertheless, the Jam Study and follow-up studies has
remained controversial; surely giving your customers
more choice must be a good thing, right?
Choice Overload: A conceptual Review
and meta-analysis (2015)
• A meta-analysis was done by Kellogg researchers to
determine when reducing choices for your customer is
most likely to boost sales:
1. When people want to make a quick and easy choice (effort-
2. When making the right choice matters/you are selling complex
products (the decision task is difficult)
3. When you show options that are difficult to compare (greater
choice set complexity)
4. When your customers are unclear about their preferences
(higher preference uncertainty)
“There’s so many taco places, we gotta
make sure we go to the best one”
Millennials. Who are they?
• Actually the term is “defined” by the media
• In October 2004, researchers Neil Howe and William
Strauss called Millennials "the next great generation,"
which is funny. They define the group as "as those born
in 1982 and approximately the 20 years thereafter." In
2012, they affixed the end point as 2004.
• Read more:
Millennials and Job Hopping
• Over the last 20 years, the number of companies people
worked for in the five years after they graduated has
Millennials and Moving
Millennials and Friends
• Are we closer to or further away from our friends?
What do the psychologists say?
• As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to
meet the three conditions that sociologists since the
1950s have considered crucial to making close friends:
proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a
setting that encourages people to let their guard
down and confide in each other
In addition to….
• Even more “criteria”….
• Active (fitness and outdoors)
• Intellectually curious/well read
• Well travelled or the desire to travel
• Good family values
• Ambitious and career oriented
• Someone who is actually a good person
How to Make Hard Choices
• According to Ruth Chang…
• There are easy choices and there are hard choices.
• The easy choices are those where the one option greatly
outweighs the other options. The hard choices are those
where neither option is obviously better than one another,
they may be different. Stated otherwise, they may be ‘on a
• When alternatives are on a par, the alternatives are in the
same neighborhood of value, in the same league of value,
while at the same time being very different in kind of
value. That's why the choice is hard.
• So when we face hard choices, we shouldn’t be beating
ourselves up looking for the best option.
• There is no best alternative. Instead of looking for
reasons out there, we should be looking for reasons in
here: Who am I to be?
• People who don't exercise their normative powers in hard
choices are drifters. Drifters allow the world to write the
story of their lives.
• So the lesson of hard choices: reflect on what you can put
your agency behind, on what you can be for, and through
hard choices, become that person.
• “To lead a fulfilling life, most of us make four big
commitments: to a spouse and family, to a vocation, to a
faith or philosophy and to a community. The measure of
our lives depends on how well we choose these four
enduring commitments and how well we execute on our
promises to them.”
• David Brooks, NYT Journalist