Too many choices? How variety is overwhelming shoppers

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(Feb. 19, 2014) – Buying a box of cereal is simple, right? Well, not anymore. What kind of Cheerios do you want? Honey Nut? Chocolate? Multi-Grain? Peanut Butter? There are actually 14 variations to choose from!

A trip to the supermarket can get overwhelming when many popular products come in more than a dozen varieties, such as the 15 types of Thomas’ English Muffins!

Even vanilla is no longer just plain vanilla. Breyers ice cream and frozen dessert comes in Half the Fat, Lactose Free, Extra Creamy, No Sugar Added, and more.

Consumer Reports found 27 versions of Crest toothpaste at one store. The company makes more than 50.

With all that selection, watch the prices. Some versions of a product can cost a lot more.  Consumer Reports shoppers found Turkey Hill Ice Cream for under $3, and Turkey Hill All Natural was more than twice the price.

So why all those variations? New products are considered the lifeblood of the supermarket. And when one company offers two products and another offers 10, odds are the sale is going to go to the company that offers more.

According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, consumers say they like choice, but 28 percent were overwhelmed dealing with that much information. And one out of 20 said they walked away empty-handed because it was just too hard to make a decision.

And if all that choice gives you a headache, you can head for the Advil. But you’ll have to decide whether to get caplets, tablets, film-coated tablets, or liquid-gels.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.

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