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Updated 29 Sep 2020

The power of inferior choices

You’d think offering the best choice would increase sales, but it’s actually the other way around.

30 September 2014  Share  0 comments  Print

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There’s a plethora of tools and tactics available to an entrepreneur to increase their sales, but this one is distinctly counter-intuitive until you delve into human psychology.

If you want to substantially grow your business, offer your customers some cleverly packaged inferior choices to help them choose.

So how does this magic work?

People often think they know what they want all of the time. But when faced with a host of options, the situation can be overwhelming. And when that situation is faced by a potential customer, the response is to shut down and you ultimately lose the sale. So how do you work through the maze of choices and close a sale?

An example of inferior choices at work

Dan Airiely, a behavioural economist, describes the following scenarios that will help you package your products and services in a way that will get you more sales:

If you offer an all-expenses paid weekend to Rome or an all-expenses paid weekend to Paris, what will your customers choose? In truth it’s a hard choice because they’re both a great offer.

Now say, for the same price, you offer an all-expenses paid weekend to Rome or, option B, a weekend to Rome but you have to buy your own breakfast and dinner. Suddenly the choice becomes easier because the playing field is no longer equal. One choice is clearly superior to the other and gets you more value for money.

Now to apply this to business. Here Ariely examines a magazine subscription deal:


How does these subscription options compare?

Option B is clearly inferior so why would you offer it? Though it appears useless it actually helps customers figure out what they want and the bulk of their choices go to the more expensive option.

Sales Pie Chart

In case you think that’s chance, look at the division of choices when option B doesn’t exist. More customers choose the cheaper choice because they have nothing to compare the two good deals against.

Sales Options A And C




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