Topic 3

How Many Choices Can Users Digest?

Through much of the 1980s, Campbell’s line of spaghetti sauce, Prego, struggled to compete against its rival Ragu’s Ragu. Hoping to figure out why, Campbell’s called on famed researcher Howard Moskowitz, a marketing consultant.

From an extensive survey of customers, Moskowitz discovered that Campbell’s offered too many choices—40 flavors, in fact!  Psychologists recognize that our brains can only accommodate so much information before we shut down due to confusion. Too many choices causes consumers to abandon selecting any option at all.

Moskowitz’s solution was for Campbell’s to offer just three flavors, including Super Chunky, and within months, Prego’s Ragu rose to market leader in spaghetti sauce.




Howard Moskowitz, a self-described food optimizer.

Meet Howard Moskowitz, Business Consultant

Moskowitz, a self-described food optimizer, consulted with manufacturers of soups, pizzas, salad dressings, and pickles to maximize consumer satisfaction.  

His research on Prego spaghetti sauce, which revealed a significant customer preference for “extra-chunky” is notable. 

Cirque Du SoleilCase Study

Cirque Du Soleil, a Canada-based circus performance company, has for years acquired audience insights as part of its service design techniques, to ensure its shows satisfy user needs.  Put another way, all shows are reflective of audience needs and preferences.  The approach is different from other circuses for which performers design the acts.

To gain insights, audiences are polled on their show experiences—from when they considered buying tickets, to their experiences in the theater, and their thoughts and feelings about the show itself.

What’s more, performers and staff and invited annually to a meeting for the entire 5,000-person organization. The purpose of this meeting is to provide ideas and suggestions for new shows. External audience polling data is shared across the enterprise, and along with internal ideas, these are used to develop themes and story lines for future shows.



Themes are then sketched out, with directors and producers filling in characters, scenes and sets, and music.

Next performers are chosen to play the characters. Directors select them from an organization database in which performers are catalogued according to their onstage presence and stage personalities.  These traits are recorded based in part on audience reactions, which are monitored during every performance.

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