Sunday, 13 April 2008


My local Sainsburys (and if you know Bath, you know it's not a big one by any means) devotes an entire frozen aisle to selling chips. It sells 26 varieties of frozen chips. TWENTY SIX! Twenty six products that are, at base, potatoes sliced into a particular shape. Furthermore, of those 26, many are simply duplicates by a different brand - so there is McCain's straight-cut oven chips and own brand straight-cut oven chips, which are different in price by pennies.

What I find most frustrating about this explosion of choice in the supermarket is that they still never manage to have exactly what you wanted in the first place. I wouldn't mind approaching-infinite choice if it meant that I could have the huge fat fluffy chips that the pub down the road from my old job did, but you don't get that - you always get a sub-par substitute. What's the point? If you're not going to get exactly what you want, they might as well pile it high and sell it cheap.

I like Marks & Spencer, because it knows that it is catering to a very specific market, and so doesn't need to offer ten different kinds of each product in order to target the wallet size of every customer shopping, and can just get on with selling one kind of each thing. Thus it manages to offer 75%+ of the products of Sainsburys in less than 25% of the floorspace. Of course, I realize that I'm paying for the privilege of less choice, which is barmy in its own special way.

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