Variety: From the Consumer’s Perspective

  • Barbara Kahn
Part of the International Series in Operations Research & Management Science book series (ISOR, volume 10)


“Variety is one of the consumer’s greatest concerns.” (Fortune Magazine, 1991) From a consumer point of view, variety in an assortment can offer two distinct advantages. If the consumer is making many choices over time, then variety or depth in the assortment will enable the consumer to choose different options over time to satisfy the need for stimulation. If the consumer is making a single choice, then variety or breadth in the assortment will enable the consumer to find the customized option that s/he desires.

We begin with a discussion of why consumers seek variety in their own choices over time. This type of variety-seeking behavior generally occurs in low-risk product classes that are frequently purchased, in which consumers are familiar with the options offered and have large consideration sets (Van Trijp 1995). In these types of categories, generally speaking, the more true variety the marketer can provide, the better. We then discuss the other type of choice context, where a consumer is making only a single selection and, consequently, may not be as familiar with the options offered. In order to appreciate the variety in this situation, the consumer must learn his or her preferences for the different options, and make a selection. Here, too much variety can complicate the choise or frustrate the consumer. The role of the marketer in this case then is to reduce the perceived complexity of the assortment.


Customer Satisfaction Consumer Research Customer Preference Mass Customization Product Class 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Kahn
    • 1
  1. 1.The Wharton SchoolUniversity of PennsylvaniaUSA

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