Critical Thinking Media Competence

Overchoice—Group 4

As a result of the technological progress consumers have to face a new problem which consists of too many choices. In our modern society we are having more choices what initially appears to be a positive development but faced with too many choices, a lot of people get into trouble making an optimal choice.


1. Overchoice in the supermarket

In year 2013 an average supermarket in America carried 43,844 items, according to the Food Marketing Institute[1]. Normally consumers request a big choice of supply and even marketing departments assume that they can make more profit if they follow the “more is better” strategy. Besides, in most cases companies are under high competitive pressure to expand their range of products. But reality shows that consumers find too many options troubling because of the risk of misunderstanding the available alternatives. Today it is nearly impossible to find the perfect product for people with high expectations. Furthermore they feel overwhelmed by the certain types of variety. Especially people with too high expectations are afraid of finding afterwards a better alternative and regretting their choice. Moreover too many options mean too much effort and a lot of time for making a sensible decision. However, mostly all customers are indolent and have not much time, so that they simply give up and decide to delay their choice because they feel stressed. But returning home empty-handed makes customers depressed and demotivated. At that moment they wish that somebody else would make a choice for them and show the best alternatives. Next time a customer may decide to visit another supermarket that offers a simpler assortment. The solution for this problem is a reduction of supply what would make life for consumers less complicated. Certainly, not only consumers would have an advantage because it has proven successful in practice that a reduction of supply can cause higher sales for companies. For example P&G reduced the range of “Head and Shoulders” shampoos from 26 to 15, and the sales increased with 10%.[2]

2. What to do after school?

Overchoice is not just a topic that you face while shopping in the supermarket and by everyday life decisions. There is another decision young people have to think of when they finish their school and have their A-levels. It is the question what to do after school.

The first topic all students have to think about is the decision between going to university or doing an apprenticeship - hands-on experience versus independent studying. And if you know which of these two ways of education you want to choose, you still have the agony of choice concerning your field of study. Around 100 years ago, your occupation was mostly determined by the occupation of your parents and grandparents, nowadays this is not the case anymore. You can study the traditional arts and sciences like medicine, law or philosophy, but you can also choose new and more specific studies like “Global change ecology”, “Sorbian studies” or “Eurhythmy” (the study of expressive movement art). So you can actually choose between more than 4.500 fields of study in Germany at the moment. As a result students have more freedoms and more alternatives. But this freedom make it even more difficult to find the right way and can cause a lot of stress and doubts to young people that mostly have just a few insights into the economy and its working daily life. Furthermore this variation of choices leads to more and more students which start their studies and change after their first semester or year.

Another way to postpone the decision is a gap year. And again, students face overchoice. Globalization opened the borders for going abroad. So there are many countries and cities that students can live in for a year: Work and travel in Australia, being an Au pair in the United States,  joining a social project in Africa, teaching English in Cambodia or rescuing turtles in Costa Rica. The list is infinite.

3. Education completed – Now what?

Finally you have managed to decide what to do with your life. You have chosen either an apprenticeship or some course of studies and all in all you are happy with the decision you have made. But as soon as you are finished with your training there already is the next decision to make. Well, if you have done an apprenticeship usually there is no decision for yourself to make. Either you will be taken on by your employer or you will not. But if it was your decision to study you are just facing the next problem. What to do after the bachelor’s degree?

Of course you have countless possibilities. You have never been abroad so maybe you should gain some experiences in a foreign country. But on the other hand you already have such an amount of debts that it probably would be a better idea to earn a little bit of money instead of spending it. Then again this will probably be the last time of period that you can use for whatever you want. Or maybe you should do an internship at a big company first. Or rather at a small company. Anyway, the main thing is that you have work experience. You could also directly follow up with a master’s programme so that you finish your studies as quickly as possible. Because the main thing is that there are no interruptions in your Curriculum Vitae. By the way, you have never been abroad for a longer period of time. You should book a flight immediately since everyone knows that international experience is THE main thing. As if it were not difficult enough to find out what you want you also have to find out what your future employer wants. Or your parents. Or your cohabitant. In my opinion the only advice that is helpful somehow is the following: You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. […] Keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

This emboldening word of advice stems from Steve Jobs – former owner and creator of Apple Inc. and possibly it is the best advice that you can get. Listen to your heart, think about it for a moment and then DO IT. And last but not least: Regret nothing.

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[2] Source: