Diane Lin Presser

Digital Marketer & Martial Arts Enthusiast

Posts tagged ‘diane sullivan notre dame’


Sheena Iyengar (a professor at Columbia University, author of the Art of Choosing and someone praised by Malcolm Gladwell) conducted an experiment called the Draeger Jam Study. She set up two tasting booths, one with six jams and the second with 24.

She was looking for two things:

(1) How many people stopped and sampled the jam

(2) How many people purchased the jam


(1) The six jam table had 40% stop to sample and the 24 jam table had 60%.

(2) The six jam table had 30% of the people (who had stopped to sample) actually purchase the jam.  The 24 jam table had 3% of the people purchase it. This is a six times difference.

Finding:  The number of choices can negatively or positively influence the likelihood that someone will be attracted to a product.  In addition its influence over the likelihood that they will buy the product, compared to attracted to the product, is completely different.

Practical Application of Theory: On our digital channels we should convey that we have a wide selection of different products to get that initial click/people in the door. However, in order to get the actual purchase, our selection ideally would be limited and concise. For example we can test this on display banners that show multiple niche offers.  We must brainstorm how to attract yet convert which the jam study was unable to do.


Study 1: The McKinsey study where they presented consumers with either:

(A) nine choices upfront

(B) three choices upfront that led to another three choices (three by three rule)

Finding: The latter proved to be better to funnel web traffic

Study 2: Consumers were presented with two separate rack of both 600 and 400 magazines.  The consumers were asked which had more and they could not tell. Then the 600 magazines were grouped into ten categories and the 400 magazines were grouped into 25 categories. The consumers were asked which had more and they said the 400 magazines did.


(1) People cannot count/register such big numbers such as 600 and 400.

(2) Our marker for variety is not sheer number, rather our marker for variety is category because it tells us where the seperations are.

(3) We can handle more categories than choices. We can handle 10 choices max but 20-25 categories max. The number varies depending on the situation and platform.

Further Discussion:

When we are given a lot of choices we need/look for markers to differentiate the options in order to choose a winner.  Popular thought would be more choices lead to paying less due to all of the competition.  This is not always the case because of how price works.  This is because in the situation of a lot of choices price becomes a marker.

Therefore the answer to what one chooses lies in if the product being chosen is a low-end or high-end good. When we are presented with many choices that is when we start to rely heavily on price.

If the product is low end, and you are presented with numerous choices, you are likely to purchase the cheapest one.

If the product is high end, and you are presented with numerous choices, you are likely to purchase the most expensive one. (This is because you are looking for value.)

Now this is a little tricky but to relate this to the earlier jam study.  Keep in mind jam is defined as a low end good. You would pay more if you saw six jams versus if you saw 24.  The less options you have the more likely you are to pay more.

Example: eBooks are defined as a high end good because they are information.  Therefore if you sell eBooks for a living you might notice if you bump up your eBook price you will sell more than if you discounted it.

Practical Application of Theory: Products within a website should be clearly categorized in order to simplify the process of selection/choosing for the consumer.  Example of good website navigation that has effectively implemented categories: Zappos.com.  We now have a lot of different offers/packages that we didn’t have before.  We should re-evaluate how all the offers/packages are displayed under one section only titled “Offers”.  We should test out the three by three rule on our packages gateway page and possible the menu too.  For example: Group all Show Packages together instead of listing out each one.

(Special thanks to Derek Halpern to whom I stole all this information from. Thank you for spreading the knowledge.)

Another mention of jam study: http://stayoutofschool.com/2010/07/the-jam-experiment-on-choice/

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malcom gladwellWhy do so many ugly shoes (hush puppies, uggs, crocs) get so popular and so quick? Because often when a group of hipsters decide to endorse a product the sales will accelerate over night from minimal to exponential. Similar to how outbreaks in diseases can be traced back to a small group of infectors, trends can be traced back to a handful of key influencers (what Gladwell calls connectors, mavens, salesmen).


The Law of the Few – a few key people are the ones who will influence the masses. Therefore if you are a marketer focus all efforts to a small group of influential people and your message will spread further than if you dumped it out to the masses at once.

The Stickiness Factor – compels the phenomenon to “stick” in the minds of the public and influence their behavior. Makes people want to pay close attention. This is usually because a major attribute of stickiness is the dramatic divergence from what most people believe and know. Examples from Sesame Street teaching literacy through the t.v. (unheard of!) to yes… skinny jeans.

The Power of Context – essentially saying it all depend on the particular circumstance. If someone throws a snowball at me it might be out of line but not in the context that I just threw one at them. Do you act the same at the opera as you do at a baseball game? 


Airwalk shoes which created a marketing campaign that honed in on several timely avatars of coolness like Tibetan Buddhism, pachuco gang culture and hipsters’ ironic embrace of preppy culture.  They were very successful as they combined this with having limited edition sneaks only sold in boutique shops and putting a more general sneaker in department stores. The main factor that led to their demise was they started providing all their distributors with the same line of shoes.

Gladwell says teenagers are wired to try on different personas, behaviors and to experiment during adolescence.  In addition those who like to emulate others are more likely to engage in dramatic easily romanticized behaviors, everything from smoking to suicide.  Gladwell even concludes that infrequent drug use should be expected as normal in teenagers and therefore benign behavior. 

He encourages us to use logic and reason to think outside the norms.  For example one who understands the logic behind the tipping point would see that a nurse with a tight budget who wants to raise awareness about breast cancer could enlist in the help of hair stylists.  As one can reason a hair salon is a place where people’s guards are let down and a lot of gossip, ideas and influence is exchanged.  This can be the tipping point.

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