Choice is a contentious concept, and has been explored by market researchers numerous times. But what could it mean in the context of incentive programmes?
Yes, it is true that a number of studies show offering consumers greater choice can have a detrimental effect on purchasing outcomes, but what could it mean in a different setting?
In the context of rewards and incentive programmes, whereby the consumers have earned a right to something extra, would choice then be strategically sound?
The paradox of choice
When Prego Spaghetti conducted extensive marketing research in how it should revise its product line, the answer came back not quite what you would expect - consumers wanted just one more alternative, extra chunky. After psychophysicist and marketing researcher Howard Moskowitz set out to test 45 new varieties of pasta sauce in the '80s, he discovered that all of the options delayed consumers decision-making, often leading them to reflect on whether or not they even need to make a purchase. In a 2004 TEDTalk, journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell explained that by offering a targeted addition rather than an expansive selection, Prego made massive profits in the market.
This idea had previously been captured in the well-known Pepsi research on "the sweet spot", and even Coca-Cola's debacle around "New Coke" pointed to the same solution. However, these assertions were all made based on an agenda to increase sales, not to augment consumers' perception of power, nor were they decided in today's socio-cultural climate.
It's human nature to crave control
In a 2014 study from Deloitte Consumer Review, the researchers explained how we now live in a reality where truly expansive choice is the norm. While this complicates decision-making, it also provides more power to consumers.
Writing for Psychology Today, Dr Susan Weinschenk explored the idea of alternatives and power. Drawing from studies of primal behaviour and instinct, she explained the link between choice, control and survival. Essentially, it comes down to our unconscious drive to survive. In order to do this, we desire to have control over our lives.
Having more options to choose from inherently creates a sense of power, therefore enhancing our perception of control.
With Power2Motivate's global rewards gallery, boost your business performance by incentivising with selection rather than standardisation.