Implications of Too Much Choice on Performance Improvement Program Design

3,000,000 choices.

It sounds impressive when you’re talking about an incentive award catalog. But it’s not enough.

Neither is 4,000,000. Or 10,000,000. Having millions of items to choose from is the pseudo-security net of novice incentive buyers. The misconception is that the more items their audience has access to, the more likely they’ll find what they want and be happier in the program. Except they won’t. They never find that perfect item. And if they do choose something they won’t be as happy with the choice.

A catalog with 3 Billion items isn’t a reward catalog. It’s Amazon.

In 2000, Research done by Sheena S. Iyengar, a professor of Business at Columbia University, suggests that while we may desire more options from which to choose, we become unhappy with our choices or unmotivated to make them at all. More current research published in 2018 from Caltech further supports this inconsistency and even narrowed down the sweet spot to probably be 8 to 15 choices. This is truly a paradox, and a problem for any incentive program.

Does offering unlimited choice in the form of award Debit Cards or through an ever-expanding choice of certificates and merchandise in typical incentive catalogs do more harm than good? Is less more? Will incentive program results benefit by going on an awards diet?

You can read more about the experiments and their results in our blog post: Choices are great, but enough is enough!

Curious to know more about the implications on performance improvement program design? Download a copy of our free guide for 3 specific methods that will allow you to offer a large selection of awards AND have happy participants.

Download the Full Guide: The Power of (Un)Limited Choice

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