Thursday, October 6, 2011

Decisions, decisions

The New York Times ran an interesting essay last month on a phenomenon called ‘decision fatigue’. It centered around a study which showed that a parole board was more likely to grant parole early in the day when the board was fresh or shortly after a break. The reason being that making decisions all day simply wears you out to a point where it’s easier not to make a decision at all or to go with the least risky option – in this case, not granting parole.

Other experiments found that when buying customized suits, computers or expensive cars, after a certain point people would invariably go with the default option when presented with yet another choice. But decision fatigue dissipated or was reversed with a shot of glucose. So maybe you should stock up on chocolate bars next time you have a big call to make.

Sugar-hits aside, decision fatigue reinforces the imperative for brands to engage with hearts rather than minds. And to anticipate, surprise and delight with thoughtful touches rather than customizing to death. Sure I like choice and the chance to personalize a new product. But more than anything I want you to show that you know me and you care.

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