As we continue to learn more about not only how people think, but how people make decisions, the idea of convenience continually rose to the forefront. This “convenience” has several folds to it. It involves more than just how easy it is for the consumer to get the good or have the service, but also how easy it is for the consumer to make the decision that this good or service or brand is the right one for them.

Yes, the topic at hand is the convenience of choice.

Choice is incredibly interesting to think about, for several reasons. First, humans are not very good at making choices, especially when there are multiple options. Second, humans are awful at asymmetrical comparisons ( i.e. best car vs. best fruit), because the way we categorize items in our minds. Comparing categories is intrinsically difficult.

Therefore to make choice easier, consumers rely on mental shortcuts, or heuristics. And that is when and where we see seemingly rational people make irrational decisions.

A heuristic that we believe marketers can take advantage of is loosely known as the “path of least resistance.” In short, a consumer is faced with several options and then chooses the option that makes them “work” the least. Now in some cases, brands want the consumer to work. That can create a small but very loyal customer base. That’s okay. What we’re describing here cannot be considered a best practice, but a strategy new or re-surging brands can use as a tactic to gain additional customers.

How can marketing establish a path of least resistance? Here are some ways*:

  1. Provide the rationale of why your brand is better
    It’s short and sweet. Use your unique selling point, and stay on message.
  2. Build up the obstacle that the other option owns
    This can be done through emotional or logical appeal. For example, a beverage company can say that its competitor doesn’t use glass. A sneaker company can say that it allows you to customize your shoe while the other doesn’t. A gym can say that its membership can be used across other locations, while the other doesn’t. Any way you can position your brand in a way that shows more freedom and flexibility, would be a winning method, even if the customer has no intention of using that freedom.
  3. Limit the Choice
    Simply put- the less options the better. Even if your brand offers a lot, you can create packages and categories for the customer in order to shrink the playing field. When the field is smaller, the purchase is more likely to happen, and the customer will be more likely to be satisfied with the decision.
  4. Choose for Them
    Restaurants are brilliant at this. Doing a “Daily Special”, “Chef’s Selection”, “Popular Dishes” are all ways restaurants choose selections so the customer isn’t stuck figuring out what they want. That’s why some of the better restaurants instruct its servers to recommend food & wine pairings, or their favorite dish, and so on. As long as the consumer considers the information source as trustworthy, the PLR is made.

The idea of the “path of least resistance”, is not new. However, being able to accurately implement it into coherent marketing strategy is something worth exploring. As we do our due diligence into finding out new ways and manners to use it, we hope you do the same.

*We have to operate under some assumptions:
-The information source is considered trustworthy by the consumer
-The brand or product is seen as lacking a significant advantage over its competitors
-The consumer is having trouble seeing the value of the brand or product
-Consumer is not choosing the brand or product simply because of price