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The Paradox of Selling

by | May 3, 2022 | 2 comments

Just took a trip to the Texas Hill Country area and browsed in a few tchotchke* shops in Fredericksburg, Texas.

One store sold a variety of jams and it reminded me of The Jam Study.

If this store wants to sell more jam, they need to read this blog!

In a study conducted by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper from Columbia and Stanford University they observed the following buying habits: On one day there would be a display table with 24 different kinds of jam. On another day, at the same store, shoppers were given only 6 types of jam choices.

Drum Roll… drum roll…

More display choices created more interest by shoppers.

Less display choices created more sales.

The study shows that while choice seems appealing, at first sight, choice overload generates the wrong results. If a person is presented with too many choices, he or she is actually less likely to buy.”

Since this study, there has been more research on the topic in other areas within the food and clothing industries… with the same results.

Why this matters to you

As leaders in your organizations are you confusing your marketplace, your VPs, or your teams with too many options or protocols or data? Are you giving too much info on your emails, in your meetings, or within your presentations? Are you over-communicating?

A confused listener tunes out.

A confused buyer says no.

Your takeaway

Less is more.

*Tchotchke: Yiddish word for knickknacks and collectables, AKA “dust collectors”.

Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and did NOT purchase any jam at this Fredericksburg store pictured in this blog.

© 2022 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved


  1. Harry


    I love, “A confused mind says, ‘No.’

    I was surveying some speaker websites recently and saw one speaker with so many program choices. I thought, ‘How can he know so much in so many areas?’ Do you know an optimal number? How many is too many?

    Harry Hall

    • Karen Cortell Reisman

      Harry – The optimal number is between 3 to 5. This experiment gave the consumer 6 choices… but that’s jam. For a speaker, 5 will be enough. Thanks, Karen

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