I recently came across some nice articles on choice in the age of consumerism and how people end up spending their time on this activity.
Barry Schwartz on paradox of choice.
Another interesting researcher on the same topic is Sheena Iyengar. She is blind, so it adds a different perspective to choosing.
Choice is freedom to chose. However, one can make best choice only if one is sufficiently informed about what options exists to chose from. To be informed about the options, one has to study them. So unless one already knows about the options, chances are that a huge amount of time would be needed to be informed about the possible choices. Do people have sufficient time to do all this? Is this why shopping is considered a stress buster by many females because it provides them with this unique problem of choosing which takes other stress away? How do people chose?
I was visiting an electronic shop recently and was awed by the amount of choice available for consumers to chose from tons of electronics gadgets. I felt lost and needed constant assistance. Thousands of mobile phones, televisions, laptops, tablets, ....and the list goes on.
So if there is so much abundance of choice, how can a person make best possible choice? What if he chooses a wrong choice and suffers the consequences? What is the relation of happiness to this choice that the person is making today on his future? How much time one should spend on deciding optimally what choice to make?
Well. There lie so many nice consumer oriented problems and all the deals related sites that operate from Silicon Valley try to cash on, on such kind of problems. By offering a solution to make consumers life easier. However, most of them work in the area of making these huge choices available to people in some form, for example consolidated deals to chose from like www.deals2buy.com or www.groupon.com, or some kind of recommendation based on consumers past history such as Amazon recommendations, "Books you might be interested in". These all are called techniques in Data mining, Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence to help users narrow down their choices by providing them a guided environment of recommendations to chose from.
However, these are just recommendations and not final decision. Out of these tons of recommendations finally the consumer would decide which is optimal for him. Now there are lots of theories about optimization to make best decisions. However, they are limited to a few knowledgeable individuals with very high education, which a normal consumer is not.
So there lie tons of opportunities to help people make an informed decisions about any thing they want. Its a huge future industry in making.