Sunday, September 30, 2007

Not so average

People like averages, when people look at a market, collection of figures or a country they often look for the average of everything, what is the average income, average age, average height etc, because it provides an easy to understand figure that tries to express usually quite a complex situation. However there are times where this is not always the best course of action, and often the average can disguise the reality of a situation.
This was illustrated to me recently in a marketing video shown to my class about Mexico (I acknowledge that I may be inaccurate about this, but for the purpose of what I am trying to explain it will do just nicely) and marketing research conducted by Unilever into the clothes cleaning product market there.

From what I gathered Mexico seemed to have two very distinct classes, those that were washing there clothing in rivers and barely had enough water to survive, and at the same time there are those that have their clothing washed by their maids. The divide in wealth was so large that there was not much of a middle ground between the two, and therefore the company had to launch two very different product lines with two very different pricing strategies. Had they looked at the average income of an individual in Mexico and pursued a strategy to target this almost non existent middle ground, they would have been attempting to execute a marketing strategy that didn’t work for any party and ultimately would have failed.

Another example would be to take the average growth rate in Transport energy usage in the UK and Ireland over the last 15 yrs (not exactly thrilling I know) which averages at 75%, however this disguises the fact that the figure for the UK was a mere 18% where as the Irish figure stood at 132%, so a company or individual wishing to enter the region be totally wrong using this figure for either market.
Beware of the averages, they are coming to get us all.

Picking your fights

Perspective

Over the last week or two I have been doing some research into the Irish petrol market for an article I am co-writing with someone from college, and in particular why so many petrol retailers have simply decided that there isn’t enough profit to be made here and are closing up shop and are selling their forecourt sites.
A comment I came upon by Commercial real estate broker Patrick Reardon, really puts the situation faced by the oil majors into perspective

‘‘Looking at it from a business point of view, the sale of petrol and diesel in all of Ireland is equivalent to what is sold in metropolitan Manchester, so it is hardly a priority investment area.”

Things can look a lot different when you see them in relative terms. It also serves to highlight the insignificance of Irish retail on a global scale.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Irreplaceable


Mongolian Mischief

I remembered this last night and realised it relates back to the thinking of Barry Schwartz on how more choice can be bad for the consumer.
During the summer I went out for a dinner with the crowd from work, we headed down to an interesting restaurant in the city centre called the “Mongolian Barbeque”, this restaurant was unlike your average restaurant, the procedure was that when you went in you got your bowl and filled it with the various meats and vegetables you wanted, added some spices and seasonings, and then you gave it to the chef and he cooked it up right in front of you on a big giant hotplate like the pic above, pretty nifty eh?
There was a large selection of ingredients and with the spices included you could create an infinite variety of flavours, the problem was that a lot of the time the mixes created by the customer were well and truly foul, and the next day we discovered had caused many bowel related problems.
The problem is that your average person is not a chef, and therefore really doesn’t know anything about what goes well together and what is needed to make a nice tasting meal. The customer is not always right, because often the customer has no clue what they are talking about, and need to be saved from themselves. Or like my friends they will end up on the toilet all night

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hammer Time


Banking - Put your money where your (word of) mouth is

I have always thought that going into a bank is quite an unpleasant experience. Even if the task in hand is not particularly difficult, like for example lodging money into your account, what seems like it should be a reasonably straightforward activity can often turn into a long drawn out and somewhat painful affair.
The banks I have been to tend to invariably be poorly laid out, poorly air conditioned, understaffed and generally uninspiring and unfriendly places. Rudeness among staff seems to be par for the course and there is ALWAYS a queue.

Unfortunately up until now in Ireland we have not been exactly spoilt for choice, in the last few decades there has only been two major players worth mentioning and they are Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Bank which together hold 73% of all Bank accounts in the county, which has the 3rd most concentrated market in the EU. The two parties were smart enough to realise that because switching from one bank to another would be such an ordeal that they could just rely on customer inertia and retain their customer numbers by offering the bare minimum levels of service that a customer would put up with before leaving. And it was this practice of executing the minimum levels of service (and in turn expenses) led to Ireland having the most profitable banking sector in the entire EU.

However this did not go unnoticed by the powers that be in Brussels and recently they have released directives that aim to remove all those pesky barriers to moving from one bank to another all across Europe, implementation of these directives has began in the UK, where the banks have drawn up a switching code of practice, which sets down common rules that all the major UK banks have agreed to.
In theory this means that banks will now compete to keep us with them as soon as we find out how simple switching is, and now with the entry of Royal Bank of Scotland and other UK/European banks to the Irish market it looks as though things might get a little bit nicer at your local bank.

The question the banks have to ask themselves now is, how will I keep my customers from moving and how do I steal customers from my competitors? If you watch much TV you will see that the answer they seem to have come up with is to advertise like CRAZY, and seemingly advertise with ads that have very little to do with banking, and are more to do with funny computer animated characters. A recent survey carried out by MORI the UK based research group, showed that the single biggest factor someone taken into consideration when choosing a Bank was recommendations from friends family etc, this information should prompt those who are smart enough to understand it to stop spending money on advertising on television and spend the money on improving there service to the point where it is Word-of-mouth worthy.

In the book “purple cow” by Seth Godin, he mentions that the reason why American Airline, Jetblue, became successful was when they stopped advertising on TV and instead put TV’s in the back of their seats, then their customers did the advertising for them by word of mouth. Now I am not suggesting that Bank of Ireland put a whole load of TVs everywhere, but just make their service something worth talking about, Maybe one or two more staff would be a start.
Lets hope banks starts getting better.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New York - The Language Barrier

One of the funnier experiences I had in New York was when my two friends and I went to a McDonalds just off Times Square looking to pick up a bit of food. The conversation between me and the guy behind the till was… confusing to say the least.

Me – Hi there could I get the Big Mac meal with Diet Coke please.
Guy – Well do you want sweetie, Cause we don’t have any sweetie
Me – Sorry you don’t have any…
Guy – Sweetie, we have none left
Me - *confused*…yeh that’s eh…fine
---Five mins passes---
---Ed Gets meal and starts to drink the “coke”---
---Ed notices THIS IS NOT DIET COKE but appears to be some form of horrible brown tasteless drink---
Me – Sorry, did you mean to say that there was going to be no sweetener in the coke? Because I’m pretty sure you cant just sell me brown water
Guy – I TOLD YOU WHAT I TOLD YOU!
Me – yes… but WHAT did you tell me?
Guy – That there was no SWEETIE
Me – Look, I was pretty sure coke came with whatever sweetie is added in
Guy – OHHHHHH you wanted coke? I thought you said ICE TEA... there's no sweetener for the ice tea
Ed - *in disbelief*… no I wanted coke.
---Ed gets Coke and walks away---

Monday, September 24, 2007

Applevolution

Apple computer over the decades, got to love the 98 iMac! changed the way people viewed computers forever

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sigmund on America

You can't polish a turd

My favourite stand up comedian in the whole wide world at right now is Dublin based David O Doherty, whose fusion of regular stand up routines and hilarious piano based songs create the perfect show. The other night he was playing a gig in the student centre in UCD and near the end of his routine came out with a story that had a surprising amount of wisdom to it.

As a child David had always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and become a professional pianist. One day, after a long session of practicing hard in the family sitting room David’s father asked to have a chat with him in the kitchen, his father sat him down and calmly told him “son… you can’t polish a turd” meaning that as much as he practised he would not ever be good enough to be a professional piano player because he just didn’t have the talent.

Here in Ireland and most of the English speaking world we live under the influence of the Americanised mantra of “you can do anything you put your mind to” a sentiment heavily related to the “American dream”, and as long as you work long and hard you can achieve ANYTHING (although equally unhelpful is the Irish “you wont be able to do that so don’t even try” mantra). In reality this is not true, most people are bad at most things, a fact that may seem harsh, but is very true.

The video below is a section from the US TV show “American Inventor” (think Dragons Den but tackier) This fine gentleman has sold all his worldly possessions including his wife's wedding ring, except for his Volvo station wagon… WHICH HE NOW LIVES IN.
Why? because he has decided to devote all his life and money to the promotion of Bulletball, “a high calibre table game designed for the 21st century lifestyle” which he KNOWS is going to make it big and make him rich, because it is his DESTINY, somebody needs to remind him that his invention and possibly himself is the turd that cannot be polished.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why less is more - Choice Quality

I wrote before of the fascinating video I watched a while back on the subject of why “Less is more” delivered by the New York based psychologist Mr Barry Schwartz, and his first argument on how increasing the numbers of choices available to someone can cause a state of “choice paralysis” where they simply choose to make no choice at all.

The second thought provoking point that he puts forward is that increased choice leads to a decrease in the quality of the decision, and should someone mange to first overcome the choice paralysis and make a decision, often an abundance of choice will cause the chosen option to be inferior to that of a decision made with fewer options available.

The first example discussed by Mr Schwartz is that of a college survey undertaken in a New York college. Participants were asked to fill out a fairly lengthy survey and were rewarded with one of two gifts, they could choose either two dollars or a good pen from the college with the crest etc worth in the region of two dollars. 70% of the participants chose the pen, seemingly because two dollars was just cash, but the pen had a certain degree of novelty value to it and meant more to them than a mere $2. A week later the same survey was undertaken on campus, this time the participants were offered a choice of $2, the nice pen, or two cheaper pens. The results showed that with the increase in choices only 40% of people chose either pen option, with 60% going for the money instead. Although people had wanted the pen before, now they were faced with a problem they couldn’t resolve and decided to go for what had been deemed as the inferior option previously.

The second, and significantly more important example put forward by Mr Schwartz was that of company pension fund offerings. Mr Schwartz had previously explained that for every ten options added to the selection available to a workforce, it was observed that participation dropped by 2%, he now stated that the survey had also shown that for every 10 options you added, an extra 7% of participants chose to just put their money in a simple bank savings account, by far the poorest returning option, but given a long list of confusing options the easiest to understand. Therefore the quality of their decision got worse when they were given a greater choice.
He explained that the problem is only worsened due to that fact that most financial advisors if quizzed, would suggest that you give employees the largest choice possible, whereas in practice this actually has a negative effect on the quality of the choices made by the employee and puts their long term financial health at risk.

Makes you really think about our assumptions about what’s good and what’s bad when it comes to choice eh?

Paper by Numbers


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Scholar Ship - A campus with a difference


Below is an article i have written for the University Observer about an exciting new educational project launched this September.

Every year many students make the decision to attend a semester in a different country and experience an alternative culture and way of learning in a new environment, this academic year has heralded the launch of an even more international program named “The Scholar Ship” which over the period of a semester takes place in three continents and eleven cities, The Scholar Ship is a semester away with a real difference.

The Scholar Ship is an exciting new project launched this September that involves students and staff taking to the seas for “a semester long academic program aboard a dedicated passenger ship that traverses the globe as an ocean going campus.”

The Scholar Ship is a joint project organised and accredited by a number of Universities around the world including the University of Cardiff and the prestigious University of California, Berkeley, and is a truly international project boasting a faculty and student body from right around the world, which the organisers say helps to create a unique “global community”.

Students who enrol in this unique learning program take part in a sixteen week long voyage that combines traditional class based learning with relevant field activities at many of the port calls made by the vessel throughout the semester, which departs from Hong Kong and finishes in Amsterdam, and includes port calls to cities such as Shanghai, Bangkok, Cape Town and Lisbon to name but a few

Dr. Joseph D. Olander, president of the Scholar Ship program insists that the initiative does not have mere novelty value, instead he argues that the project has real educational merit and claims “There is no other program positioned to deliver the type of personal development and career enhancing opportunities that the Scholar Ship Offers”

The program offers a wide variety of fields of study at both an under graduate and post graduate level, with the organisers stating that “The Scholar Ships curriculum has been designed to develop the intercultural competence and leadership skills of our students.” Courses available on the Scholar Ship range from “International Business” to areas such as “Sustainability Development” and “Conflict Studies” as well as humanities based subjects, providing a great choice of subjects to suit any student.

However, very predictably such an amazing experience does not come cheap, with fees for the next departure of The Scholar Ship in January 2008 standing at $21,395 for under graduate level and are slightly higher for post graduate studies at $22,900, with prices like these it is easy to see that a voyage on the Scholar Ship is considerably more of a financial commitment than a semester here at UCD. The course fees quoted by the organisation cover most of the relevant costs for the semester including accommodation, food, travel and tuition, however do not include costs such as learning materials or travel costs getting to and from the ports of departure and arrival, these extra costs may add another $5000 to the already hefty bill.

So should you decide that all this land based college is a bit too boring, and you have some money to burn, why not consider enrolling in an educational voyage aboard the Scholar Ship.

Time to get writing


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Child of Vision

I had my first class in strategic marketing this week and I must say it was a bit of an eye opener.
The first topic that our lecturer explained to us was the growing problem of short termism in major companies, and how quarterly/annual profit levels are paramount on the agenda and are prioritised above safeguarding the long term health and effectiveness of the brand in question.

The current situation that Irish drink producer C&C find themselves in was highlighted as being a perfect example of such short term thinking. C&C is the company behind the cider "Bulmers" in Ireland and "Magners" in the UK, and up until recently was involved in the production of variety of soft drinks most of which fell under the "Club" range.
However C&C decided that their soft drink range was not offering quite the same profit margin or growth potential as the growing cider market in the UK and Ireland, so sold off their soft drink division earlier this year, placing all their eggs in a very much cider dependant basket.

Cider is a product that has great seasonal fluctuations, it is a summer drink and very much marketed by the company as being so. If you live in Ireland or the UK you may have noticed that this has been one of the worst summers in the past few decades, and sales of cider predictably fell considerably.
On top of the bad weather, the competition in the Cider marketing has been heating up with competitors such as Kopperberg and Bulmers (confusingly and entirely separate brand owned by a Scottish company) stealing market share from C&C at an alarming rate.

Having sold off their soft drinks division they now have no form of fall back, and what may have at the time been a profitable decision has now left them in a great deal of trouble with sales very much down and the company’s share price about half of what is was just after the sell off.

The American bag maker “Coach” was also briefly highlighted as a brand which had destroyed its brand image through short sighted decisions made in the pursuit of profit.
“Coach” used to enjoy a very exclusive image and in terms of fashionable bags was up there with the best of them. Then coach decided to launch a range of more affordable bags and blanket bomb retails outlets everywhere around the United States, sales for that period rocketed, however once EVERYONE had a Coach bag, they were no longer exclusive or stylish and now the brand lies in tatters.

So why is this happening? Surely someone has the sense to see that decisions such as these might impact on the long term future of the company? According to our lecturer (who is the exception to this rule and a member of several boards) the main problem is that it is extremely rare for a board of directors to contain a person from a marketing background as they are seen "to not pull their weight". However considering most companies would be crippled without effective marketing I find it particularly stupid to exclude someone who has the knowledge of how to most effectively operate and maintain the brand health.

Marketing like any other business activity requires strategic thinking, and if you start putting quarterly or annual profit goals ahead of the life long health of a company… you’re in trouble.

Population of the Century

Two pieces of information I encountered this week really hit home how big the population of Asia, and in particular China, really is. I suppose I knew this stuff before but when you see the numbers in questions expressed graphically it really makes it more comprehensible, The first was the above graph, I made this graph form some figures we were quoted in our Asian business class from a 1995 survey, so I would imagine the difference is now even larger.

The second was a “population ticker” that can be found at this site http://www.cpirc.org.cn/en/eindex.htm, it shows in real time how many people have been born this year and what the running total population is in China, which last time I checked was in the region of 1.3 Billion, I would imagine it is not perfectly accurate but based on predicted numbers, still its very impressive that a baby is being born almost every second and there has been in excess of 11 million births this year alone!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Don't Leave Me Now

"Don’t leave me now" was the title of the very last track off the 1983 Supertramp Album "Famous last words", the last album released to feature songs by the Englishman Roger Hodgson (above), one of the founding members of the group.
His distinctive voice and insightful lyrics caused Roger to become the recognisable face and voice for the band, and was responsible for the writing/singing of the songs that the average person would attribute to Supertramp. (The logical song, Breakfast in America, School, Take the long way home")

Hodgson ended up leaving the band after the release of “Famous Last Words” and shortly after, much to this dismay of their legions of fans, Supertramp went into decline and eventually broke up.

One could view a company and a band as family members in a way, the former arguably less artistic, but both a collection of people working together, and still suffering from the same people-related problems, one of which is the idea of business (or band) continuity. Say for instance you have a business and you are the decision making, staff motivating leader of it... what happens if/when one fine day you pop your clogs, or have a falling out and are no longer in a position to run the company? Can it go on and be as successful before, or was it your leadership that was keeping it going?

Anyone who knows anything about the world of technology will tell you that when you think of “Apple” you think “Steve Jobs”. His Apple expos and the keynote presentations that accompany them draw many tens of thousands of views and nearly every techie blogger in the English speaking world hangs on his every word, and faithfully reports the latest Apple developments/products to their readers. Jobs has also been the driving force behind the innovative products that have come to symbolise the California based computer company that are now involved in the sales of not just computers, but music, media players and various other devices such as Apple tv.
Not many people know this, but once upon a time... Apple forced Steve jobs, the person who had founded the company, to resign, Jobs was out, and as he said himself "very publicly out". Soon after this Apple went into decline under a new management that tried to imitate the competition rather than trying to innovate and be the company that Jobs had started.


In 1996 Apple rehired Steve Jobs and the success that has followed has been truly amazing. However it seems though that memories run short up in Cupertino,California, and despite some rather poor attempts at giving some supporting staff opportunities to address the public at the more recent Expos, there seems to be no solid plans to draft in a new face for the company to replace Jobs, who is in now in his fifties. Apple need to address this problem, and probably sooner rather than later, some have suggested than Jonathon Ives the designer behind Apples current line of products could make a good replacement, but the ball needs to get rolling, and soon to avoid a repeat of Apple sans Jobs part one.


Words unspoken

I am not a huge fan of superstitions, in fact I think they are one of the more stupid things to have gained widespread popularity in society.
Today in my "Asian Business" class at college I was told that if a property developer from the west who was a bit wet behind the ears was to build some housing in China and was to name some apartments blocks say apartment block 1,2,3,4, the fourth block would find sales to be very low as in China the number 4 is never used as it is considered to be unlucky.

Instead the apartments would have to be named 1,2,3,3a, so as to avoid using this "forbidden number"

I saw something like this while in New York city, while taking a lift up to the apartment I was staying in I noticed that the lift went from the 12th floor...right to the 14th floor, there was no 13th floor!

My question is, do the people who live on the 14th floor REALLY believe they aren't on the 13th floor? and do the people who reside in 3a REALLY believe they aren't in apartment block FOUR?

The dog did it...


Monday, September 10, 2007

School...?

Today heralded the beginning of the end for my college days, as I start my final year in UCD I could not be more excited about what I am going to learn and experience over the next few months.

However as great as college has been for me, I still despair at the numbers of people who go to college and stay there because you are “supposed to”, and to not go or to leave would be against the norm so they just go through the motions and stay enrolled so they don’t look stupid.

I think that career councillors in schools need switch their approach from “What college course will you be doing” to telling students to think long and hard about whether college is right for them, and remind them that college is not the be all and end all of life.

Consider the following people:
the chances are that if you are reading my blog, you are using either a product made by one of the companies founded by the fine gentlemen below, all of them DROP OUTS from college... just thought I'd say.

I like it


Sorry I'm eh... busy

The Bing Blog has one of the funniest blog posts I have read in a long time, and having worked for the summer in an office I happen to know that these ideas are 100% realistic, sit and observe the wisdom that is the "Ten things to do when you don't feel like working"

Out of the ten I think my favorite was definitely...
While it is very hard for sub-management to take naps, it can be done. While a simple associate, I used to sleep in my office on the floor with head against my closed door. That way if anybody opened the door it would hit me in the head, waking me dramatically so that I could then flip over and go about on my hands and knees muttering something like, “where’s that paperclip?” or something like that. Incredibly, I never got caught, perhaps because my bosses were napping at the same time. Another good technique is to sleep with your feet up on your desk only until the telephone rings. On busy days, that may be just two minutes. On quiet summer Fridays, however, you may need a bib

Also a very worthy activity was to...
Have an apple at your desk. Nobody will interrupt a person who is eating an apple. An apple a day keeps the bosses away

Give the rest a look here

Surplus to requirement...


Sunday, September 9, 2007

www.Midomi.com - Sing us a song you're the piano man

I came upon this site last night and thought it was worth a mention and a visit if you have a little spare time on your hands.

The website goes by the name of Midomi and can be found at http://www.midomi.com/, and the basic premise behind it is that you sing or hum part of a song of your choice, and it will tell you instantly what song you are imitating. I personally didn't believe that it would work but it successfully named the first song that i sang so sweetly into my microphone, The Piano Man by Billy Joel (see above)
The process works by matching your recording to samples uploaded by members of the site and matches how alike the two versions are so whether or not your song is recognised it completely dependent on whether it has been added before.

I reckon one practical application of this would be solving of the ever-annoying "I heard that song on the radio, but have no idea of the name" syndrome.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Apple iPod Touch

I saw this in the newspaper this morning... and it just made my jaw drop, I had no idea that Steve Jobs had something like this up his sleeve, just when you thought your iPod Video was the best media player money could buy...behold the NEW iPod.

The new Apple iPod touch has features that just make the mind boggle, especially in a device that starts from as low as €299 for the 8gb model. (or if you happen to be passing through the US its is $299 which today converts to €218)

The new iPod at a mere 8mm thick, boasts what according to Steve is a "Gorgeous" (gotta love the enthusiasm eh?) 3.5 inch touchscreen that displays videos, photos, a version of iTunes and an extremely slick interface operated by the touch of your fingers.

Perhaps the most amazing feature, and my personal favorite is the ability to receive wi-fi signal and display it on the Apple web browser Safari (think Internet Explorer, but slightly better). This means that in your house, on the move, anywhere where there is an open wi-fi signal you can be surfing the web on your iPod touch.

My awe for this device is not entirely unconditional however. With battery life on my video iPod being so minimal, I find it hard to believe that a decent amount of audio playback hours will be achieved on a player that has to power a backlit screen twice as big as the previous one and support a fancy touchscreen interface to boot.

I also can't see the business sense behind releasing this new iPod, I personally believe this will take away some of the hype and buzz surrounding the iPhone as some of the big hitting features that people would have bought the phone for, can now be obtained at a much lower price with the iPod touch, some may argue that the two will compliment eachother, I predict cannibalisation of sales.

Despite having one or two reservations, I think this iPod will blow all competition out of the water and hang them out to dry, the iPod is dead, long live the iPod.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Carnival of HR 15

The Carnival of HR 15 is currently in progress over at Fortify Your Oasis,


Rowan 'The Insultant' Manahan's blog is hosting a sort of guest-post free for all where any blogger who has a word or two about issues relating to HR rattling around up there (with the marbles and loose screws) can submit an article to this bi-weekly wonder.

Todays batch of posts ranges from the "gut-wrenching business of firing an employee." to "some very eye-opening thoughts on napping at work." and for the very first time even yours truly has joined in the fun and games with my post about New vs Old School managers and how its "nice to be nice".

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Bic Ad

A great piece of out side the box (or billboard more specifically) thinking, I'm sure in Ireland you would probably need planning permission or something equally ridiculous.

Why less is more - Choice Paralysis

“The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less” raises what at first seems like a ridiculous concept, but proceeds to back up this seemingly absurd statement with simple examples from studies that seem to point that an increase in choice does indeed lead to a variety of undesirable conditions, the first and most debilitating of which is “Choice Paralysis”.

Barry Schwartz highlights the example of pension contribution schemes in most modern companies as an example of this paralysis and what ramifications that this can cause.

According to Mr Schwartz, no longer are your pension arrangements taken care of directly by your employer, nowadays you are faced with the choice of choosing where you pension contributions go yourself, and the choice in front of you can at times be truly huge, with countless different mutual funds based in different industries each with varying levels of risk and returns. Faced with such an array of choices it can often cause an individual to simply freeze in a state of confusion and make no choice at all. Schwartz goes on to say that in recent studies conducted across companies in many different industries that on average for every 10 further choices you put in front of your workforce, participation on the pension scheme drops by 2%, so by offering more choices you are leaving more people in worse financial situation for the rest of their lives.

My personal favourite example of more choice being bad for both customer and retailer is seen in the example of a California based jam shop.


The Jam shop decided to stage a promotion that involved sampling of its 24 imported jams, participants were then given a $1 off coupon for any jam in the shop. The next week they repeated the promotion with 6 varieties of the imported jam on display with the same $1 off coupon. The promotion with the 24 jams led to more buzz, excitement and more sampling around their shop front when compared to that of the day there were six, however sales of the jam were ONE TENTH of what they had been on the day when fewer samples were offered.
By offering too many choices the customer could not decide on what jam to buy… so just didn’t decide at all, and at the same time the retailer lost out on sales that the promotion could have provided them. The large amount of variety and choice therefore had a distinctly negative effect on both parties.

Two important facts I gather from this are
1. If there are too many choices the end result will be no choice
2. Do not judge the success of a promotion solely by numbers of people/ buzz

NB: Mr Schwartz does recognise that if you are knowledgeable about a certain area, and in this case are a financial expert or jam specialist, then an abundance of choices are ideal and exactly what you are looking for, however most people buying jam, wine or whatever it may be are not experts in that field.