In my work as a consumer behaviour consultant I often find that I’m writing a presentation with information I’m familiar with, but that is going to be very challenging for my audience.

At the moment I’m working on a project for a retailer who wants to increase the number of choices they give customers.  Nothing wrong with that, you might think.

Unfortunately, lots of studies show that you quite quickly reach a point in some categories where more choice is damaging to overall sales.  I’ll save the details for another time (since it’s not the purpose of this blog).

My challenge is how to convince my audience that what they fundamentally (and rationally) believe is wrong.

My plan is to warn them of the possibility and encourage them to run an extended trial so they can see the impact for themselves.  According to my analysis this will lose them a lot less money (but finding out will still be damaging financially in the trial stores).

Any other suggestions would be welcome!



  1. Rob Northrup


    Your idea to test is probably a good one.

    In some areas, choice is probably not as harmful. For example three different styles, and once they settle on a style, they can get it in choice of 6 colors.

    This breaks the choice down from 18 options to two decisions, one to choose between 3 and another to pick a color from 6.

    The key is to structure the buying process into a series of choices rather than the overwhelming possibilities.

    I am looking forward to connecting more with you in the weeks ahead, I have been impressed very much by the work you have done in the interim… Spot on!

    Seize the Day,

    Is Your Corporation Protecting Your Personal Assets?

  2. Darryl Pace


    Great to read you post, and looking forward to more. Your idea for a trial is a good one. Are you going to rely your research on increased choices to your client and ask them to keep the trial to a minimum number of stores because of what research shows?

    Darryl Pace

  3. Duane Cunningham

    Hey Phil,

    From my perspective, nobody on earth like’s to hear that they were wrong! Especially when it’s business related!

    Being able to frame it in such a way that your idea (what you want them to do!) is seen as coming from their own conclusions… rather than flat out proving what they are doing is wrong…will disarm those missile defense systems we all have ready to go!

    Great read on this subject is Buyology by Martin Lindstrom


    Tap Into the Psychology of the Mind with Persuasion Expert Duane Cunningham

  4. John Ho


    I agree with Duane’s fundamental approach that no one wants to be proved wrong. So I won’t say that you are “wrong” 🙂 but suggest that you for the moment while you write, are just unable to choose a better word to defuse your client’s resistance.

    The challenge is to make them see what you see WITHOUT telling them what to look for! So they discover their shortcomings without you telling them directly what they are and yet they know it is you who guide them gently to the right directions.

    Wow, this is certainly an art in it. May be peeking into your client’s personality with Pure Numerology will help?

    Like Lisa, I love your articles in your website as they have substance and the depth. The trick is to monetarise them. That’s what I find challenging too for my own stuffs.

    John Ho
    Understanding Personalities for Better Influence & Persuasion

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