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13 August 2006

Blink and you’ll miss it

There's an interesting debate taking place at the moment on Make It (a fab blog full of lots of resources for craft and other entrepreneurs).

I read the book Blink a few weeks back (what happened to all those regular book reviews you promised? - Ed). I don't think it quite lives up to all the hype - it's basically one idea padded out with lots of examples - but an interesting read nevertheless.

Its basic premise is all about gut instinct - the fact that we make a lot of decisions sub-consciously and very quickly. And that while these decisions are sometimes governed by prejudices or fears that we might not even know we have, often these decisions are more valid than decisions over which we have deliberated for a long time.

The particular example being debated over on Make It is one about a woman selling gourmet jams at craft fairs. Sometimes she puts only six different jams on the stall and sometimes twenty-four jams. Conventional wisdom would suggest that the more choice people had the more they would buy, as they were more likely to find a jam they particularly liked. Instead the opposite was true and she sold much more with only six jams, as people found it much easier to make a snap decision when they weren't overwhelmed by choice.

All of which provides interesting food for thought when buying for mirrormirror. In recent months I have been adding more choices to some of the product lines, such as more colourways or patterns. In some cases this seems to work out and lead to extra sales - additional colourways for interiors products and jewellery for example can work as people have different colouring or decor. We also offer small and large boxes of bathmelts - both of which seem to sell equally well as they come in at different price points. But quite often adding an extra choice seems to have no discernible impact on sales whatsoever. In fact I'm starting to think each product has to be very different from the all others and really earn its place in the collection - otherwise the customer just gets confused.

What do you think? Is is 'easier' to shop from somewhere which has a small strictly edited collection which appeals to your taste or from somewhere such as Amazon which offers an overwhelming choice?


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oooh... interesting. I have learned to take a great deal of notice of my gut instinct, from trivial things like feeling that I need to take my laptop/an umbrella/etc with me despite all indications to the contrary, to whether that driver is actually going to pull out in front of me in a really dangerous way.

And the stock issue is interesting too. I like having websites in my "favourites" that specialise - I know what types of thing I'm going to see when I get there. I loathe huge websites that are just tiring to find my way around. So if I want something specific, I'll go to websites I know or Google a description. I would never go to browse round Amazon. The only exception is when I need some additional information or am looking for special offers - say I need blank DVDs or to find out which MP3 playes are selling well at the moment. I'd check Amazon and and get an idea of cost etc. So I guess I'm in the "fairly restricted" camp.


was browsing the book, ok, more like reading 3 chapters on my feet, and thought the same - one thing repeated over and over. but still, i bought it. so much for gut instinct. ;P

I had seen reviews of Blink and wondered if it would be worth reading. I think you probably described the contents well enough that I don't need to bother!

That's an interesting question re whether it's better to have a small range of products or a large variety that can just be overwhelming and confusing. I go along with the idea of specialising with a few distinct products that are likely to appeal to many of the same customers. With the example of Amazon, I too would never visit the site to browse but only when I knew what I wanted already and just needed more information or was ready to order. It's much more fun browsing in our small local bookshop!

My business is very niche too (home exchange) and, at times, I had wondered about expanding into other areas in the vast travel industry. However, if I listed holiday rentals too for example, my gut feeling is that people looking for home exchanges would, rightfully, be annoyed to find that a site that appeared to specialise in home exchange, actually had a confusing mix of exchange and rental listings. Hope my gut instinct is right!

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