Some time ago I noted Don Norman’s article discussing consumers’ desire for more complex products. Shortly after that I pointed out a New York Times article that discussed research showing that if a multi-attribute product is priced too low, consumers suspect its quality. The Times is back again with an article discussing a paper in the Journal of Consumer Research that found consumers “are more likely to repurchase products when the initial purchase experience is packed with ‘superfluous choices.'”
For example, students choosing between packages of blank CDs with varying prices and features were more confident in their eventual choices, and more likely to repeat them later, if they were first asked whether they wanted 4, 5, or 6 CD case colors in their packages â€” though all had said that case color was unimportant.
The choice itself, the authors said, was meaningless. But that tiny extra step â€” choosing how many colors to get â€” made the decision seem more considered, and hence more reliable, when the students reflected back on it.
This isn’t the same as a complicated product, of course, but it does reinforce the idea that we like choices and we like to feel in control.