Photo Video

Are there too many products on store shelves?

The downside from too much selection

a a a a
Share this story

CINCINNATI -- Back in 1975, your average supermarket carried around 9,000 products. Fast-forward almost 30 years, and that number has swelled to nearly 47,000.

But could so much selection be leading to supermarket overload?

A trip to Kroger can get overwhelming when many popular products come in more than a dozen varieties.

There are 15 types of Thomas' English muffins.

Want cereal? There are 14 kinds of Cheerios: honey nut, chocolate, multi-grain and peanut butter are just a few.

Even vanilla is no longer just plain vanilla. Breyers brand ice cream comes in half the fat, lactose-free, extra creamy or no sugar added.

And Cincinnati's Procter & Gamble announced this week a new line of Crest toothpaste featuring chocolate and vanilla flavors.

"We found 27 versions of Crest toothpaste at one store,” said Tod Marks of Consumer Reports. “The company makes more than 50. Now according to a new Consumer Reports survey, consumers tell us they like choice, but 28 percent were overwhelmed dealing with that much information."

With all this selection, Marks said it’s important to watch the prices.

For example, Kroger sells Turkey Hill ice cream for under $3, while a Turkey hill all-natural brand is more than twice the price.

Marks said companies offer so many different variations because new products are considered “the lifeblood of the supermarket.”

“When one company offers two products, and another offers ten, odds are the sale is going to go to the company that offers more," Marks said.

Not all researchers are convinced that option overload is bad.

“Variety exists for a reason,” Director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab Brian Wansink said. “You need it to satisfy everyone’s tastes. New products build excitement and bring much-needed zap to categories.”

But if all this choice gives you a headache, you can head for the Advil -- but you'll have to choose among caplets, tablets, film-coated tablets or liquid-gels.

Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More DWYM
Last minute deals on Easter candy, clothing
Last minute deals on Easter candy, clothing

John Matarese has some great last minute Easter deals

Secrets to avoid the soaring price of beef
Secrets to avoid the soaring price of beef

John Matarese has ways of avoiding soaring steak prices

When it's safe to shred old documents
When it's safe to shred old documents

John Matarese shows what's safe to shred, and which papers you should save forever.

Scammers using Netflix to steal from millions
Scammers using Netflix to steal from millions

A dangerous new phishing scam is targeting the sensitive information of millions of Netflix users.

Cobalt, Saturn owners anxious for repair
Cobalt, Saturn owners anxious for repair

John Matarese reports on the wait for ignition switch repairs

iPhone 6 plans leaked: Bigger, thinner
iPhone 6 plans leaked: Bigger, thinner

John Matarese has a preview of Apple's upcoming new iPhone.

Canceled flights ruining more and more vacations
Canceled flights ruining more and more vacations

John Matarese reports why travelers are being hit with so many cancelations these days

The olive oil you buy may be a ripoff
The olive oil you buy may be a ripoff

John Matarese has a caution about some supermarket olive oil

You Win Wednesday freebies
You Win Wednesday freebies

John Matarese shares the latest freebies. Click here for App of the Week

It's Doomsday for Windows XP
It's Doomsday for Windows XP

John Matarese has a warning for anyone still using Microsoft's Windows XP