How Do You Choose Between 110 Kinds of Tide?

I was sent a magazine called Smart Money since I subscribe to the WSJ. It was more interesting than most magazines about finance, and a column by Anne Kadet caught my attention. It was about how Americans are fatigued with too many choices…and I must say I agree.

That’s why I hate going to supersized stores, where the milk is located so far, far in the back and if you forget something it’s just not worth the heartache of going all the way back in. Her point is that drugstores and other retailers are coming to the same conclusion, and in the years ahead we will have fewer choices for consumer goods.

Walgreens and Rite AId are eliminating nearly 5000 products. Kroger supermarkets slashed its cereal selection by 30 percent. Wal-mart has cut its hardware and toy selections.

It’s not the retailer’s fault. Companies love coming up with variations and ‘new’ ways to sell the same stuff. Did you know (how could you, really?) that there are 110 variations of Tide detergent? And that Frito-Lay has 46 varieties of potato chips? Who could possibly need that many? Yet they have grabbed 46 percent of the chip market…So I guess it works.

The column goes on to say how store managers suffer when they eliminate even minor items. One Maine market tried to get rid of Franken Berry cereal, and customers went nuts. Americans, said the headline, “Are Gluttons for Choice.”

One of my favorite stores of all time is Trader Joe’s. They don’t have a million kinds of anything…just their own really good brands that are usually cheaper. I’d like more stores to just find the top three of something and don’t give me so many choices. No excuse me, I’ve gotta go back into the way back of that big store to get the milk I forgot.