How to Get More From Less

“Entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.” – William of Occam

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” – Albert Einstein


Barry Schwartz wrote entertainingly about the beauty of making choices as simple as possible.  In his book The Paradox of Choice, he describes several theoretical experiments where consumers are presented with choices which have smaller or larger numbers of choices.  The conclusion is that in many cases, presenting more choices not only complicates consumer choice, making business less efficient, but in many cases actually leads to significantly lower sales – making choice too difficult, means that consumers choose to do nothing!

Some recent real examples from retail, confirm these findings (thanks to for drawing my attention to this).  Walmart and P&G have separately experimented with reducing their number of offerings (examples are in Peanut Butter and Soap) with the result of significantly increasing their sales (in some cases by more than 20%).

We know that the brain loves simplicity, and we all know that in our lives we crave simplicity, and these examples show that in business, more often than not, less is very much more.

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz (2007)

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One thought on “How to Get More From Less

  1. Woody

    Part of Apple’s success is it’s relatively small product line and rare external refreshes. While HP releases new designs several times a year, and Dell have literally hundreds of laptop choices, Apple has just two, which they redesign every 4-5 years or so. You want an Apple, the hardest choice is which screen size you need.

    It also means that they can spend more time and money on the design and production, as it’s going to pay for itself over several years, not months.

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