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When Less Is More

Quote:The expansion of choice is the cumulative result of decades of economic growth alongside social and technological change. Rising affluence has stoked demand for ever-more options. Technological improvements—both in manufacturing and information technology—have drastically lowered the cost of production while also introducing a flood of new gadgets to buy. Thanks to the Internet’s “infinite shelf,” businesses and services are accessible no matter how small or how far. Against this backdrop, cultural attitudes have grown more individualistic: With more choices come elevated expectations that every person can have something unique.

In recent years, however, the unbridled enthusiasm surrounding choice has cooled. More options inevitably mean higher production costs and risk making brands look unfocused. For consumers, evaluating all these options can feel more like a time-wasting burden than a privilege; the average American makes 70 decisions a day. In The Guardian, columnist Stuart Jeffries says what’s happening now evokes visions of The Simpsons’ Monstromart: a mega-supermarket whose slogan is “Where Shopping is a Baffling Ordeal...

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