Too Much Information – The Confused Customer

information overloadMore information is not always better. I am reminded of this constantly when I make more expensive purchases (such as when I bought my latest camera). It is interesting to me how complex some stores both online and offline make the purchase decision. Most consumers are not experts, especially for products they purchase very infrequently. Yet, it seems that retailers often want to tell us everything there is to know about the product.

However, this really isn’t the way to help consumers make better decisions. In fact it is a good way to drive customers away. Most people begin with a short list of attributes that are important and they use these attributes to weed out the first set of choices. Then based on secondary attributes they further whittle down their choices until they come to their final choice. It seems to me that in many cases sellers offer too much information up front and try to let the consumer figure it out. This can lead to the customer second guessing whether the attributes that they thought were important actually are. Studies have shown that consumers are likely to use only information presented and in the way it is presented when their experience with the product is low. As doubt in the customer’s mind then increases purchase likelihood begins to fall. I think a really good example of this is how Amazon displays products. If I know what I want to buy I always use Amazon. However, if I am doing comparison shopping on anything other than price I am likely to go somewhere else as the amount of information thrown at you can get kind of ridiculous. The results are then the increased likelihood that I am going to purchase at a different location too.

Since more information is not always better here are some relevant questions to ask yourself when you are presenting product information:

Do I know what attributes my customer thinks are most important?

Do my customers know which attributes should be considered?

Am I presenting that information in a way that can easily be processed by the customer?

Am I providing too little or too much information?