How many guest experiences are too many? Are we confusing our visitors with too many choices? Consider this simple interaction in a restaurant regarding water:
Would you like water?
Sparkling or still?
With ice or no ice?
Poured by a left-handed person or a right-handed person?
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? And yet we sometimes bombard our visitors with a lot of well-intended questions to match them with the best guest experience for them. But do we have so many choices that it becomes hard to decide?
A confused mind always says no.
Choice overload is a cognitive process in which people have a difficult time deciding when faced with too many options. The term was first introduced by Alvin Toffler in his 1970 book, Future Shock. The phenomenon of ‘over-choice’ occurs when many equivalent choices are available. Making a decision about too many equally good options is mentally draining because each option must be weighed against the alternatives to select the best one.
Author Malcolm Gladwell helps us understand the phenomenon of how we make choices. In his best-selling book Blink, he describes an experiment held in an upscale grocery store. A jam manufacturer produced 24 different jams and decided to boost sales by having in-store demo tastings. In one booth, six different jams were available to taste, and 30% of those who stopped by purchased jam. In another booth, all 24 jams were available to taste. The maker thought that more choices would lead to more sales. What happened was that only 3% of tasters purchased from the booth with 24 choices.
More choices, such as having many tasting options available, seems to be appealing initially, but too many choices can make decisions more difficult. This can lead to consumer’s being indecisive, unhappy, and even refrain from choosing at all. Alvin Toffler noted that as the number of choices increases, “freedom of more choices” becomes the opposite—the “unfreedom.” When confronted with too many choices especially under a time constraint, many people prefer to make no choice at all, even if making a choice would lead to a better outcome.
Retailers have learned this lesson well and use it to create their merchandise assortments. They look at the product category and choose items that reflect their customer’s desires that fall into good, better, and best in price point. Good-better-best is a smart way for us to think about our tasting room options too, and the ideal number is likely four.
The ‘Good’ choice should be the option that is most accessible to most people. Likely the simplest option and the lowest price, this tasting will showcase our most popular varietals and wines. It is an entry-level choice. The ‘Better’ option is usually the most popular choice for our guests. It may have 2 versions – one with an activity (a tour or food pairing), the other with our more unusual or expensive or reserve wines. We should change these two up from time to time so that returning guests have another reason to visit to see what’s new. The ‘Best’ option will be our most expensive, our luxurious, over-the-top experience. It may include our very best wines (library) and/or access to a very exclusive experience/winemaker that likely requires an appointment.
Consider also the assets of your brand and winery – what areas do you have available for tasting wine? What is a good representation of your brand? Do you have caves, a garden area, patio or other areas that – in most weather conditions – would work for your experiences to help enhance the brand?
We need to test this idea for ourselves. If we streamline the choices we offer to our tasting room visitors, does this result in more sales, conversions, and happy customers? Test on consecutive Saturdays and measure the results.
Good-better-best also applies to how we choose the number of wines offered in our tastings, the number of versions we have for our wine clubs, and any other area where we ask folks to make a decision. More is not necessarily better and may lead to confusion instead of clarity. Best practices suggest a tasting of 4 wines with an ‘extra’ pour of one more.
A confused mind always says no…so let’s help them say ‘YES’ and increase our sales, conversions, and customer satisfaction by offering simplicity and clarity.