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What overpacking for a holiday means for your business


Have you ever wondered why you overpack for a holiday? The reason has significant implications for your business.

Participants in a 2008 study were asked to choose from a selection of chocolate bars.

In one experiment, they were asked to choose one chocolate bar each week for 3 weeks (🍫 x 3 weeks).

In another, participants were asked to choose 3 chocolate bars upfront that they could then consume over the coming weeks (🍫 🍫 🍫).

Now, your choices shouldn’t matter whether you choose them all now or as you go, but that’s not what the researchers found.

👉 Those who chose ahead of time selected a wider variety of chocolates than those choosing close to the time of consumption.

Known as “diversification bias”, when we make a decision for the future we are likely to overestimate our need for variety. 

That’s why we overpack for the trip we’re about to take and why customers pay for things they don’t end up using.

It’s about contingency. Planning for just in case.

  • I’ll join this gym just in case I want to take a Zumba class.
  • I’ll buy this phone just in case I need more battery life.
  • I’ll choose these chocolates just in case I feel like eating something new.

Perversely, variety might attract more business in the short-term but result in customers who don’t experience the value they expected.

👉👉 Because they forget they were paying for contingency.

After all, it’s only towards the end of our trip that we resent the overstuffed suitcase. At the beginning it seemed like a good idea.

👉👉👉 How will you remind them what you are really providing?


Learn more about customer psychology and how to apply it to your business in my Just Do This small business program.



Ref: Salisbury, L. C., & Feinberg, F. M. (2008). Future preference uncertainty and diversification: The role of temporal stochastic inflation. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(2), 349–359

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