Dan Naden

The American life: dealing with forks in the road

You aren’t living anywhere if you aren’t making choices every day. Honestly, I am thankful that we have choices; many in this world just can’t fathom the groundswell of choices that Americans get to make each day. In some parts of the world, many get one choice of food for weeks. Some can’t even imagine venturing into a store/bazaar with an overabundance of selections.

In other cultures, choices are from a different perspective.

In America, certain situations really overload us with choices, nearly making it impossible to select a product to meet our needs.

  • Restaurants: Some restaurants shower us with page after page of menu options. The answer to lessen frustration or anxiety: Ask the waiter for his recommendation. “I really like shrimp. What would you recommend?” The hundreds of seemingly disconnected items now shrink to a manageable list of five.

    Chipotle’s got it down. And the business is firing on all cylinders. A menu that offers the basics. (Chicken. Beef. Pork.)

  • Grocery stores: I’ve blogged about this before, but I am staggered by the niche upon niche of nacho chips, cereal boxes – basically any item available in your mega-grocery store. The answer for grocers: Have a staff member available in the aisles to recommend product and help whittle down selections. “I am looking for a half-tartar, bubble gum flavored adult toothpaste. Can you point me to some selections?”

    I realize grocery stores want to showcase the full palette of options and let the power of advertising drive decision-making, yet certain store aisles are bottlenecks because consumers are frozen with indecision. (The economics (think razor-thin margins) of a ‘grocery concierge’ may only make this feasible during busy hours.)

Technology’s doing a fine job to help us sift, sort through the jungle, yet we can use the human element of recommendation and referral to diminish that ‘overwhelming’ feeling.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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