Have you seen the Walgreens commercial where they say something like, ‘when you want to get in, get what you need and get out, go to Walgreens’?
What do you immediately think of when you hear that commercial? I know what I think; the trip to Wal-Mart for 3-4 things that inevitably turns into a hour long scavenger hunt that usually ends with me having a whole shopping cart full of crap. Besides personal distain for Wal-Mart, the company’s code of ethics (or lack there of), the kid you can hear screaming all over the store, and the 50 check out stands of which only 3 are actually open, there are so many options to choose from for everything you look at. Good grief, there are 2 whole isles for shampoo. Thus the appeal Walgreens is trying to sell you is that they are small enough to get in and out with in a few minutes but large enough to have everything you need.
Until I read this article, Why Too Much Choice is Stressing Us Out, found at, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/21/choice-stressing-us-out-dating-partners-monopolies
it never really clicked with me why I do get slightly stressed out and a little overwhelmed looking at 2 isles of shampoo. I go in there looking for a specific kind but when I get in there and start looking at all of the different brands, different types for the hair you have, different types for the hair you want, blah blah blah, before I know it I have spent 30 minutes trying to decide on one simple purchase. To make matters worse, this does not only happen with the shampoo. I will walk over to get my favorite yogurt and there are all these new kinds out that I feel I must examine and consider. At some point it will hit me, ‘holy crap you have been in here forever, just pick something and let’s go!’ For the rest of my shopping experience I feel rushed and irritated.
Typically people view choice as freedom and the more you have, the better, but this is not the case according to Barry Schwartz in his book, The Paradox of Choice. He says that having more options should be good for society but that’s not empirically true. Buying the wrong shampoo isn’t the end of the world, but what if you were sick and your doctor told you to pick any one out of 50 medications to get well? Now things are getting a little serious and you can see why it would make you anxious to pick one. Regardless of what the item is, Schwartz says that the more choices you have, the less satisfied you will be with what you do purchase. Why? If you stop for a second and think about it, it shouldn’t take you too long to figure out. One of the main reasons is because no matter what, you will always wonder, ‘did I pick the best one?’ which is code for regret, fear of missing out on something better, lack of confidence in your own decision making ability, and insecurity.
Next time you are going shopping and your thought process starts going down the path of ‘the bigger store the better because there is so much to look at and chose from’ you might want to reconsider!