Aussies spoilt for choice in a world of information overload

We live in an information age…

With even the most basic knowledge of the internet, anyone with a connected device can more-or-less tell you the height of the Empire State Building, all the dinner home delivery options in Townsville, the temperature in Vladivostok… There really aren’t too many of life’s questions that can’t be answered almost instantly.

Then why is it, with so much information available to us at all times, so many people feel disempowered when it comes to making choices? Even more so than in the past when answering the questions above would have involved a trip to the library, a search through the yellow pages or a look through the fine print of a newspaper’s weather pages.

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The Choosi Decision Drivers Report is the first in its series and aims to explore the generational shifts, barriers and drivers underpinning the choices we make. As it turns out, the reasons are many and varied so here we take a closer look…

 

So many choices, so little time

Don’t worry it’s not just you who is struggling under the weight of seemingly endless options.

Our research tells us that 90% of Australians surveyed believe that an overabundance of choice is leading to real difficulties when making decisions.

Between family and work commitments, it seems life is getting busier – and not without consequence. Over half of those surveyed believe that they have less time to make decisions. Exacerbating this is the fact that 74% of us feel that they are making even more decisions each day.

In short, we are being compelled to make more decisions that are becoming increasingly complex and confusing, with less time to consider the alternatives. No wonder our heads are spinning!

 

The hardest decisions to make

The earlier findings are reinforced when you examine the results for the decisions people struggle with most. Instinctively, we would believe that the huge ‘life decisions’ such as where to live or where to send the kids to school would be the ones that cause people the most difficulty, when in fact the reverse is true.

The research tells us choosing the right insurance policy is the decision that respondents rated the most difficult. Choosing a new laptop or phone and even what to have for dinner rated more difficult than deciding whether to rent or buy a house and where to live.

So how can a decision as seemingly unimportant as what to have for dinner – a choice where the consequences last less than 24 hours – be regarded as more difficult than where to live? Well, as we know 90% of people feel overwhelmed with choice, this is a simple reflection of that fact.

Even though your choice of where to live will have a huge impact on your life, people’s choices are typically constrained by budget, distance to work, distance to family etc. There are a number of natural constraints limiting choice and this, in turn, potentially makes choosing easier and for most people, may be less stressful than the daily chore of choosing dinner.

 

Buyer’s remorse

Whether it’s an impulse purchase that you came to regret or a poor purchasing decision based on flawed information, lack of time or understanding, Australians are clearly getting it wrong at the counter with 70% admitting to have bought an item that never gets used.

There are obviously financial implications of bad choices, but what about the emotional repercussions? According to the research, when purchasing big ticket items 21% of us admit to feeling some kind of ‘buyer’s remorse’ – an emotion that follows shortly after we’ve emptied our wallets for something we simply don’t value.

So how can we avoid the financial and emotional burden of our own bad decisions? Let’s look at what factors we tend to consider while making our more promising choices…

 

The best decisions

As we know we have an unprecedented range of ways to access information and the sheer volume of choices available can be intimidating, confusing and generally far more challenging.

Advertising has always been around to increase awareness and understanding of a product or service and in the past, we would reach out to close friends and family (and perhaps a shop assistant) for personal recommendations to see if the product/service delivers on its promises. It was literally the only avenue to receive assistance when making a purchase.

But now with the growth in popularity of comparison sites, social media, review websites and a massive range of new media outlets and blogs, literally thousands of pages of information are available by simply hopping on the internet.

Australians as a whole value this source of information highly with people typically spending 50 minutes researching online compared to only 41 minutes of face-to-face research.

Whilst online advice is sought most frequently, peer support remains a valued source of information with 54% of Australians influenced by their peers.

Why? Perhaps because life experience can’t be faked. The lessons learnt over your years on the planet inevitably lead to a greater understanding of how things work – of what makes the world tick – and it’s therefore no surprise that “Baby Boomers” strongly see themselves as the best decision makers compared to other age groups (86%).

But is this really the case? Other generations do not agree. In fact they see Gen X as the best decision makers when it comes to purchasing both big and small ticket items.

What’s also interesting is the ‘Choosi Decision Drivers Report’ found that across many areas of our lives where choices arise and we look for guidance, parents are most often our last choice for advice… Sorry mum & dad!

 

The heart wants what the heart wants

We all like to think that when it comes to important life decisions the head trumps the heart and logic outweighs emotion. That realism outweighs fantasy. If only this was really the case…

The research shows us 41% of Australians have admitted that their regrettable purchases were driven by emotion whilst 70% have said they have bought items that have never been used, concluding that we’re quite an emotional bunch indeed.

So what’s making us turn into impulsive purchasers? According to the survey the situations that most often have us turning our brain off and letting our heart steer us are (in order); holiday purchasing, shopping while hungry, spoiling the kids and the ultimate instant purchase facilitator – online shopping.

So in summary, while online research provides us with an ever increasing world of advice, it seems there’s still value in seeking the opinions of our trusted peers. Furthermore, if we’re hoping to save some pennies, we can start by avoiding the supermarket on an empty stomach.

Keep an eye out for our next installment in the Choosi Research Series which we’ll be sharing with you soon.

Posted: 14 Jul 2016

This is general information only and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the relevant PDS available on this website prior to purchasing any product. Choosi offers insurance products from a range of brands but does not compare all products available in the market.

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