Single-option aversion

Theory explained by Sander Volbeda and written by Daniel Mochon

“Sorry sir/miss, we have only one model at the moment!” How would you feel if you had to hear the same thing when you were about to purchase something? You would get annoyed, and you would decide to visit another shop. Why is that so? It happens because everyone hates single option availability which is recognized as the Single-choice aversion in human psychology.

Even if that one model is well conditioned and works quite impressively in real use, we prefer to see alternatives. We are used to asking, “What else do you have?” It may be the same model that we would buy even with the other options, but at first, we require the privilege to compare our options. As customers, we really do admire multi-choice availability as we tend to see it risky being able to buy a product when it is the one and only choice which is available. That fear commands our brain not to buy such products as the result of the Single-choice aversion. It ruins the chance of comparing similar products and this feeling annoys the buyer.

This principle of Single-choice aversion can be presently seen in use in digital marketing in order to influence consumers’ decisions. When you are working on your marketing plan, you can decide on how many options you are going to present for your customer in order to make a significant impact on buyers decision-making. How to get rid of the Single-choice aversion for Conversion Rate Optimization?

Don’t offer too limited choices

If you can offer the consumer with more than one option, you win your consumer’s heart right away! Then the consumer is more likely to stop at your place. The more you offer options the more it grows the feeling of purchasing. But how can you obtain the competitive advantage as it’s obvious that your competitors too may offer options?

Highlight that you offer many choices

To get the maximum benefit of the Single choice aversion, it’s better to hint to your prospects that you have many options to offer them. Use the landing page to highlight this as it will act as a motivation for the visitors to stay and explore more about what you have to offer them.

Present your choices clearly

There’s not much point in offering options, if your customers fail to spot them right away. Yes, your regular customers may already be aware of your options. What about the new visitors? Design your product page in a way that new visitors can clearly spot the options. You can use more white space around the options in order to present them with clarity. More white space means less clutter, so your webpage is not over crowded.

Design your options for scannability

You should keep in mind that most visitors don’t read your content for word to word. Some of them even don’t notice much of the content. Present your options in a way that even a person who scans through the content will notice. To decide the best layout for your webpage based on the number of options available, sometimes ‘the trial and error’ method works the best. However, some designers tend to go overboard making the options too obvious with a heavy color contrast. Embedding such practices can present your website as less professional and therefore less authentic, so limit yourself only to draw required attention without really going over the top.

Also, don’t offer too many options

You might think this does not make sense, it does! Offering too many options can backfire on you as it will make your consumers indecisive. This kind of situation might discourage your visitors to act upon your options. When the customer is given too many options while trying to compare them, they will get distracted and that will ruin their ultimate goal of selecting the best. That is not a good situation for conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

Wrap-up

When selling your products or services, you have to be careful on how you are going to influence your target audience to your favor. Indeed, there are many psychological tendencies that shape consumers' decision making; the Single-choice aversion is one such cognitive bias which encourages multi choice availability over single choice availability. People love to compare things to see what the best is for them. But, while trying to satisfy the consumer with multi choice availability, make sure to present content with clarity without leading your target audience towards indecisiveness by offering too many choices.

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References

The references contain experiments and studies that prove this bias is there.

1. Single-option aversion
2. Single-Option Aversion (JCR)

Books

Would you like to go more in-depth? Here are our recommendations:

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz Buy this book

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