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The Paradox of Choice in Today’s New Content Landscape

0 posted by Insight

By Sarah Gardiner

Within the past few years there has been a proliferation of content and with it a proliferation of choice. The landscape feels like a seemingly infinite abyss of shows across a multitude of providers and platforms – not to mention the amount of extraordinarily high-quality options (I'll save that topic for another time). The savviest of consumers (often Millennials) take this in stride, as the expectation for much of what they interact with is about navigating a multitude of choice, in the goals of high customization, personalization, access, and expression. However, the less savvy may feel overwhelmed.

Given this, it is even more crucial for someone (a friend or trusted social media source) or something (a brand or network) to tell them what's out there. And, more importantly, what's worthy of their time. They need a curator. That’s a step in the right direction, yes, but what if this curator also removes the huge obstacle of choice?

“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”

“When faced with overwhelming choice, we are forced to become “pickers,” which is to say, relatively passive selectors from whatever is available. Being a chooser is better, but to have the time to choose more and pick less, we must be willing to rely on habits, customs, norms, and rules to make some decisions automatic.”

― Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

Enter Netflix.

Choose just once, and then your job is done. That first choice gets you everywhere. And “picking” becomes virtually obsolete.

You choose to watch 30 Rock, and the next episode magically plays for you 15 seconds later, thanks Liz Lemon…

Paradox of Consumer Choice

…or you want to jump in where you left off and simply click a button to “Continue Watching”…

Paradox of Consumer Choice

…or you’re feeling a Walter White shaped void in your life (which Better Call Saul can’t quite fill – or maybe that’s just me?) and you click on “More Like This” to find the next best thing.

Paradox of Consumer Choice

I mean, sure Netflix doesn’t get it right 100% of the time, especially if I’m logged in as my husband (Why is it recomending Visually-striking Cerebral Sci-Fi & Fantasy to me? Actually… thanks, I kind of do love that stuff), or if he’s logged in as “Sarah” (Uh… why is it recomending Witty TV Shows Featuring a Strong Female Lead?) – but that’s a risk we’re willing to take when it means we don’t have to flip through 1000+ TV channels to see what’s on.

So, how can you help today’s consumers “choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities”?

Follow Netflix’ lead and explore how you can:

  • Establish your brand as a curator consumers can trust
  • Empower consumers by limiting the choices they need to make
  • Enable consumers to customize and personalize
  • Encourage and build loyalty by creating a two-way relationship where you give back in different ways (e.g., your own version of “if you like that you may also like”)?

By successfully eliminating obstacles of choice, you can inspire continued customer engagement with your content, product, or service.

Sarah Gardiner is Vice President at Insight Strategy Group.

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