Why you should choose your cheese caerphilly
Back in 2000, when I used to work in NYC, I was always slightly daunted by the choice of sandwiches in the local delis – with at least ten different types of bread to choose from before I’d even got started. Of course, when I had time to work my way through this decision making matrix, it was fun (though perhaps not for the more seasoned customers stood behind me), but there were plenty of occasions when I nearly dropped to my knees and begged for the plain and simple cheese sandwich I had last time (no doubt to be followed by a request to select from 20 types). However, non-the-less, it was nice to see local stores thriving – a change from getting the usual fare from a small handful of branded chains in the UK.
The truth of course, is that the high street has room for both, but the pendulum does tend to swing from one to another, and – placing my neck on the block here, I think it’s going to swing back towards big brands and less choice over the coming years, for three reasons.
The first is that too much choice can be exhausting, the brain is designed to act not think – which is why brands can be so appealing to the time pressured consumer. Take the Craft Beer market as an example, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Carlos Brito has just suggested that the US explosion in the sector might be nearing an end simply because people are tired of so much choice.
Secondly, even if Uber or Deliveroo become the new kids on the supply-chain block, distribution will still rely on retailers, who are always going to struggle to stock so many ranges, especially in times of economic uncertainty.
Then third and finally – technology; as the internet of things takes hold, and connected living powered by AI from giants like Amazon gain ground (at first though simple applications like Dash but later, once we get used to it, Echo’s future cousins), choice will lose-out to convenience based around past patterns of behaviour, rather than the more curious route of future exploration.
Which neatly brings me back to my cheese sandwich and a quote by Charles de Gaulle: “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese”? Raising the real question, will a shift away from choice be driven by the consumer in response to a need for simplification, or is it driven by big business, in an effort to control? Either way, the power is always with the people, so let’s make sure we’re paying attention and think carefully next time we’re at the sandwich counter!