Too Much

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

June 27, 2024

I think online shopping has ruined me. I was at Ulta with my kids last weekend looking for a specific skincare product. After searching the store for ten minutes, unsuccessfully, my brain thought of the internet. My how simple it would have been to type the name of the product in the search bar and have it pop up! But alas, I was ten minutes into this scavenger hunt, and still emptyhanded.

So, I did what any rational human being would do: I looked for someone in the store that could help. That’s when I found Laura! I showed her a picture of the product I was seeking and asked her to point me in the right direction. She frowned and informed me they had run out. Now what? I asked her if there was anything comparable in the store. She said nodded and guided me down an aisle to look at her recommended replacement. Laura assured me she had used the product herself and personally recommended it.

But …

I wasn’t sure if I could trust her. This was only one personal review from someone eager to make a sale. Could Laura be trusted? What was her motivation? Did other people like the product? Was one in-person review worth more than a hundred online reviews?

I resisted the urge to look online and purchased the product solely on her recommendation. And I loved it. It smelled great and felt even better on my skin. 

But I couldn’t help myself. When I got home, I felt the urge to look up the reviews online. And guess what? It only received 3.9 out of 5 stars. Based on that rating, I’d have never purchased this product and frankly, I would’ve missed out.

Lesson Learned

Maybe there can be such a thing as too much information. We are bombarded with opinions when we shop online, and most of the time, we have no idea who these people are. I was skeptical of Laura’s insight when she was a real live person standing in front of me. So why am I not as skeptical of the reviews from strangers on the internet?

I suppose the researchers Judith Hibbard and Ellen Peters were right when they said, “More information doesn’t always improve decision-making; in fact, it can undermine it.”