Supermarket headache: Consumers confounded by too many choices
Posted April 2, 2014
In 1975, the average supermarket stocked about 9,000 products. Now, it's nearly 47,000.
So many choices can make it difficult to see price disparities.
Take Cheerios, for example. There are 14 flavors to choose from, including honey nut, chocolate, multi-grain and peanut butter.
There are 15 types of Thomas' English Muffins. Buying vanilla ice cream? Breyer's has half the fat, lactose free, extra creamy, no sugar added and more.
"We found 27 versions of Crest toothpaste at one store,” said Tod Marks of Consumer reports. “The company makes more than 50. Now, according to a new Consumer Reports survey, consumers tell us they like choice, but 28 percent were overwhelmed dealing with that much information."
With so many options, consumers should watch the prices. Some versions of a product cost a lot more.
One variety of Turkey Hill Ice Cream cost less than $3, but Turkey Hill All Natural was more than twice that price.
In Consumer Reports' survey, one out of 20 people said they walked away empty-handed because, with so many choices, it was just too hard to make a decision.
"New products are considered the lifeblood of the supermarket,” Marks said. “And consider this: When one company offers two products, and another offers 10, odds are the sale's going to go to the company that offers more."
If all of the choices give you a headache, grab Advil – once you choose between caplets, tablets, film-coated tablets or liquid-gels.