Assortment Variety Affects Assortment Attractiveness: A Consumer Perspective



Nowadays, variety is abundant in many different areas. Over and over again, people have to choose from huge amounts of possibilities. However, do consumers actually value the high variety presented to them for all the choices they have to make, even for repetitive decisions on daily groceries? Retailers currently realize that although more variety can be beneficial, it has its costs for consumers as well. This thesis provides insights into the relationship between the amount of variety in a retailer's assortment and how attractive the assortment is from a consumer's point of view. Based on a rich quantity of experimental data this thesis uncovers the overall effects of assortment variety as well as the underlying processes, more specifically the perceived benefits and costs of variety. The relationship is examined across different types of assortments and buying situations. The thesis demonstrates that an optimal level of assortment size, which has been frequently suggested in the literature, seems to exist for simple groceries, such as potato chips. In addition, buying such products under time pressure makes a large assortment less appealing to consumers. For more complex products, like laptops, small and large assortments seem to be as attractive: a carefully selected small set of products already suffices. In-depth analyses reveal the role of consumer perceptions of variety and the benefits that make an assortment attractive. For instance, we reveal the important impact of feelings of decision freedom. Moreover, it is shown that although variety leads to multiple costs of variety, only a small selection of them makes an assortment less appealing. One such cost, a lack of overview, damages assortment attractiveness, making a clear organization of products on the shelf essential. In particular for complex products, anticipated regret of making the wrong choice is critical, since this too lowers assortment evaluations. Ultimately, this thesis offers a better understanding of the effects of variety in assortments on consumer assortment evaluations.