Choice Overload in the Grocery Setting: Results from a Laboratory Experiment

  •  Benedetta Grandi    
  •  Maria Grazia Cardinali    


One of the most basic strategic decisions a retailer must take involves determining the product assortment to offer inside the store. Despite the importance of the topic, there are two opposite strands of literature that have come up with completely different points of view. To summarize them, the first one states that the more choices, the better, while the second one states that more choices lead to weaker preferences and lower levels of satisfaction. Furthermore, the majority of studies conducted so far have focused their attention on collecting self-report measures. However, it has been argued thet self-report measures, interviews and questionnaires may have strong biases. Specifically, they are a product of psychological, sociological, linguistic, experiential and contextual variables, which may have little to do with the construct of interest. Thus, the present work intends to enrich the extant literature about the effect of ‘choice overload’ on customer satisfaction and behavior inside the store by analyzing both cognitive and unconscious responses. In order to confirm our hypothesis, an experiment, involving 171 participants, was conducted in a laboratory supermarket in Milan to test the reactions in front of a regular pastry display and a display characterized by fewer options.     

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