How Does Choice Paralysis Affect Grocery Stores?

Posted On: May 14, 2019

Are grocery store choices completely overwhelming? Are you bombarded with shelves and shelves of options? No idea what’s good, what’s bad, or what’s really ugly? Today, we’ll look at how to wade through the flood of products that stare back at you.

Back in the Day…

Decades ago, you would face only a couple of brands for every product available. Grocery stores stocked brand #1 and #2. You made your choice and went on with your life. These days, you can spend ten minutes perusing butter. Butter sometimes has its own 15-feet span of refrigerator real estate in your local supermarket.

The Issue of Choice

Remember that butter nook? Well, multiply that ten minutes times a minimum of about fifty other items on your list. Whoa. Welcome to “Choice Paralysis.”

Option overload. Maybe you’ve experienced it. You’re nodding your head right now, aren’t you? You can’t make a decision because you’re frozen. There are too many options and so very little time.

It’s likely that you appreciate variety. It’s better for all of us that companies compete for dollars. But all these possible selections can be a hindrance. A survey conducted by the CRNRC (Consumer Reports National Research Center) talked to nearly 3,000 subscribers. What did they find? Almost 80 percent mentioned the overwhelmingly wide range of products. And then 36 percent revealed something akin to anxiety while shopping. The information overload was crippling for them.

“Beyond All Reason”

We grabbed this phrase from Barry Schwartz. In his book The Paradox of Choice, he speaks our language. He says, “Consumers have always had choices, but today’s options have exploded beyond all reason.” He goes on to state, “Logically, you can’t hurt anyone by adding options.” But he doesn’t stop at that logic. Schwartz notes that ironically, the theory couldn’t be further from the truth.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt frustrated or uncertain about your next move at a grocery store. All the options make your shopping experience complicated! You dread going to get groceries for yourself and/or your family. Even if you finally decide, you might wish you’d opted for another item on the shelves. This can leave you feeling dissatisfied.

too many product choices in supermarket

Schwartz knows his stuff. It makes sense that some people just walk away from the dizzying effect. They avoid the paralysis altogether. Think about the canned goods aisle. It’s nearly impossible to discern the best choice. To make matters worse, you end up with an item you didn’t want. There’s so much that it all blurs together.

This Jam Study Started It All

Professor Sheena Iyengar’s jam study got this theory going. In her book The Art of Choosing (Twelve, 2010), she published her research from 1995. Those results mean something even today. She says, “… In reality, people might find more and more choice to actually be debilitating.”

Her jam study showed that people were perhaps attracted to options. But the more they faced, the fewer items they purchased. This speaks to that overwhelming feeling where you walk away because you’re overwhelmed.

How to Heal the Paralysis Effect

You can help yourself by following our guidelines here.

  • It’s important to realize that the element of choice isn’t as intense if you know what you want. Make a list of what you need before going shopping. Don’t walk in blindly. It’s wild in there!
  • Do your research. Note the differences in products and compare prices.
  • Try shopping at stores with fewer choices. Costco and Whole Foods are good ones because they carry top brands and they’re more selective.

We saved the best guideline for last!

  • Go organic. Eating organic is not only healthier for you and yours, but also less overwhelming when shopping. Looking for that “USDA Organic” green and white stamp of approval can make your experience in the grocery store a pleasant one. Check out Beetnik’s organic frozen meals! You’ll see the seal because our food is the real deal.

Beetnik Is Here

Here’s one last tip! Shop online. Talk about a breeze. Choose what’s right for you in the comfort of your own home. You never have to be anxious or frustrated. Enjoy shopping from home after a long day at work and the gym.

At Beetnik, we believe in family. We are a family. We use the best organic ingredients and grass-fed beef. We don’t serve up anything with antibiotics or hormones. No flavorings or colorings. No worries! And we choose to freeze our foods so that we can bypass preservatives. To boot, our meals are gluten-free so that more people can taste and love Beetnik.

You can shop Beetnik today with less choice paralysis! We have variety packs available, so you can enjoy them all. And don’t forget to try our organic chicken meatballs!


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