What a Famous Study Involving Jam Can Teach Us About Personalisation in Ecommerce

Tuesday, 13 August 2019  |  Posted in: Articles  |  4min read

We all want more choice when we’re looking to buy. So, it’s only natural to assume that more choice is the best thing to give consumers. But, contrary to popular belief, this isn’t always the case.

A famous study published by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper used 24 varieties of gourmet jam to show that more choice isn’t always better.

This study teaches us a new way to use personalisation in web design to give users of your ecommerce websites exactly the right amount of choice at the right time.


A study on jam

Dr Iyengar, Professor of Business at Columbia Business School, set up a market stall with 24 jam varieties available to sample. People who had a free sample received a voucher for one dollar off any jar of jam. On a separate occasion, they set up a stall (with the same offer) but this time, with just six jam varieties.

When they looked at the results, they saw something fascinating.

The study found that 60% of customers stopped to sample jams from the large assortment, while only 40% of customers sampled jams from the small assortment. Makes sense so far.

On average though, both groups sampled two jams, regardless of how many varieties were on display.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Although more people stopped for the large jam assortment, only 3% of those people actually bought any jam. On the other hand, of the people who stopped for the small assortment, a sweet 30% of them made a purchase. So, more choice actually led to fewer sales.



Sometimes, less is more

What this study goes to show is that there really is such a thing as too much choice. Other studies have since confirmed this.

The effect of selection size differs from product to product, but generally speaking, the most important influencing factor is where the consumer is in the purchase process.

If a consumer is deciding whether they want something, having a bigger selection can increase their interest. But conversely, when they are at the stage of deciding which one they want, a bigger selection makes them less likely to buy. This phenomenon is called ‘analysis paralysis’.


Is your web design a sticky mess?

Is the current website design for your ecommerce store causing ‘analysis paralysis’ with potential buyers? If so, don’t worry. The power of personalisation makes it possible to use this knowledge to your advantage as part of your marketing strategy. You can present your consumers with a large selection of products to pique their interest, as well as a smaller selection that they can comfortably choose from.

If you have an ecommerce website with an extensive range of products, you can use this factor to your advantage to draw consumers in. Then, you can collect and use demographic and behavioural data to personalise product recommendations and curated collections to offer a smaller (and more relevant) selection that they are more likely to make a purchase from.


How to implement personalisation in your web design

Our favourite tool for personalising web design is Kentico. The easy-to-use CMS platform can be set up to personalise and automate your marketing in every stage of the consumer purchase process.

With Segmentation and Personas, you can create rules for a variety of real-life scenarios and control what your consumers see, and when.

If your desired solution utilises our WordPress Solutions, you will gain access to the entire catalogue of WordPress Plugins, each capable of adding unique and customisable personalisations to your website. If you decide to use plugins however, make sure to thoroughly vet them first by reading their reviews and checking they are regularly updated to ensure they will not create vulnerabilities in your system.

If you would like to speak with a Digital Expert for advice on personalisation in ecommerce, contact us to get started.

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