With too many tangible offerings, people create filters and use other tools, like social media, to make sense of the many messages they’re bombarded with every day. In every category of business there are more product choices than anyone could ever try, let alone purchase. No matter how much branding or advertising a company does, it’s increasingly difficult to wade through the clutter. Studies have demonstrated that providing too many options – particularly when the real distinctions between them are small (there are over three dozen different flavors of Crest Toothpaste, for example) can cause people to feel overwhelmed and overloaded, and as a result, less likely to pursue any of the options available.
People want variety, but they want companies to be reasonable at the same time. When the products available to them are relevant to their needs and their lifestyles, customers will feel that those companies have actually done their homework. Throwing out dozens of choices and assuming people will find something they like doesn’t foster intimacy between companies and their customers. People don’t necessarily need more choices; they need choices that are personally relevant. The reality is that in response to this product overload, people are suggesting that more isn’t always better; that perhaps quality – or at least relevance – is more important than quantity. The only possible exception to this way of thinking is in people’s ongoing quest to somehow find more time.
Articles in the 1960’s and 70’s used to talk about the rise of leisure time we would experience by the year 2000 because of the promise of productivity following the development of technologies like the computer. What happened? Remember how many futurists accepted the notion of a four-day workweek as the norm for most of us at the turn of the century? What happened? With our infinite choices, from 500 television channels to 125,000 new books every year, we’ve filled up our “extra” time pretty fast.
If there is one constant for all of us it is our lack of time, whether real or perceived. I look at it this way: I’m 49. The average American male lives to be 77.8 years old (according to the National Center For Health Statistics). That’s 28,397 days, so I’ve got about 10,512 days left. If you’re like me, you: sleep eight hours per day (if you’re lucky) – 3,565 days; eat for two and a half hours per day – 1,114 days; spend half an hour per day in the bathroom (hot showers rule!) – 223 days; work eight hours per day (16 years, maybe, maybe not) – 1,927 days; work out one hour per day (hopefully) – 446 days; commute one hour per day (at least) – 446 days; hang out with the family two hours per day – 892 days; do things you don’t really want to do one hour per day (pay bills, listen to telemarketers, do yard work) – 446 days. That leaves 1,453 days, or about one hour per day, left for following your bliss.
I don’t know about you, but anyone hoping to get my attention these days better make it really mean something to me, especially if it infringes on that one sacred hour.
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