Journal of Marketing Behavior > Vol 1 > Issue 3-4

Partitioning the Choice Task Makes Starbucks Coffee Taste Better

Michael Dorn, University of Bern, Switzerland, , Claude Messner, University of Bern, Switzerland, Michaela Wänke, University of Mannheim, Germany,
Suggested Citation
Michael Dorn, Claude Messner and Michaela Wänke (2016), "Partitioning the Choice Task Makes Starbucks Coffee Taste Better", Journal of Marketing Behavior: Vol. 1: No. 3-4, pp 363-384.

Publication Date: 24 Feb 2016
© 2015 M. Dorn, C. Messner, and M. Wänke
Behavioral Decision Making
Choice overload effectOverchoiceToo-much-choiceSequential attribute-based processingCustomized decisions


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. Study 1: The Starbucks Tasting 
3. Study 2: The Tailor-made Suit Customization 
4. General Discussion 
5. Conclusions 


A corrected version of the article is available at

Consumers are often less satisfied with a product chosen from a large assortment than a limited one. Experienced choice difficulty presumably causes this as consumers have to engage in a great number of individual comparisons. In two studies we tested whether partitioning the choice task so that consumers decided sequentially on each individual attribute may provide a solution. In a Starbucks coffee house, consumers who chose from the menu rated the coffee as less tasty when chosen from a large rather than a small assortment. However, when the consumers chose it by sequentially deciding about one attribute at a time, the effect reversed. In a tailored-suit customization, consumers who chose multiple attributes at a time were less satisfied with their suit, compared to those who chose one attribute at a time. Sequential attribute-based processing proves to be an effective strategy to reap the benefits of a large assortment.