Why “Choice” can Kill

HD and Satellite radio offer more choice!

So say the folks who blindly read their consumer research and assume that “more” is always “better.”

It’s not, as I have long said.

In fact, most listeners don’t want more choice. They don’t want more variety.

Unless, of course, they can get that extra variety on one station. Even if it happens to be a station that plays a scant couple hundred songs but earns the “variety” vote regardless.

And if you don’t believe me, take it from Al Ries, co-author of the seminal book Positioning.

Writes Al:

Consumers are getting confused. A number of research studies have shown that the more choices a consumer has, the more likely that consumer will be unhappy with the choice he or she does make. Look at what Steve Jobs did when he took over Apple. At the time, Apple marketed some 40 different products, from inkjet printers to the Newton handheld. On the computer side of Apple’s business, there were four major lines (Quadras, Power Macs, Performas and PowerBooks) each with a dozen different models, a typical megabrand product lineup. Jobs cut the product line down to four machines: two laptops and two desktops. Later he told BusinessWeek, “Everything just got simpler. That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity.” Over the past few years, Apple has doubled its share of the computer market.

The lack of interest in choice is exactly why HD radios don’t sell. It’s precisely why the retail market for satellite radio has shrunk to just 12% of all new subscriptions. As I have long argued, radio does a really good job at pleasing most of the people most of the time with the number of options already available on the 800 million radios at home, and work, and in your car.

What radio really has to fear isn’t “choice,” it’s “my choice.” That is, the ability for me to get exactly the programming I want whenever I want it via my iPod or various customizable sources, many of which are or will soon be mobile.

The enemy of the broad is not the focused, but the personal.

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