The way to maximize freedom is to maximize choice… or not (about the smell of wax contradiction)

Van der waal wax scented special edition
We filmed this video at a flat day in Oeiras 😀

Van der Waal with the smell of wax? Let’s do it!

This title is ‘stolen’ from Barry Schwartz TED talk about the paradox of choice (embedded at the end of this article) and it is just a way of many to explain why sometimes users don’t want to decide and, more than that, they will not decide for what they always asked for.

Every single time we at Van der Waal had gone to an event, a WSL Championship, beach markets or product presentations, there was always someone who told us something like ‘oh… nice product, but I really love the smell of wax’.

To be honest, I love the smell of wax too. And, since I was surfing with Van der Waal almost 2 years in a row, I really missed that smell on my board.

So I’ve decided, with Afonso, to launch a special edition of wax scented Van der Waal. We talked and after sometime brainstorming and figuring out how to do it, we created and launched a special edition of Van der Waal. To communicate it, we created a video in homage to the famous scene from Apocalypse Now – “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”.

We had a product that everyone asked for, limited edition to 100 packs, at the exact same price as the regular version. My house stank of wax, we had stock and everything was ready, so we launched it across our marketing channels.

I was so excited with this new version and so sure that it would be a massive success, that I slept dreaming of selling all the 100 packs on a single night.

On the next morning, I had several emails congratulating us for the video and the idea and the product, I had messages and shares across social media, and our website visits had grown. But no sales.

And after 2 months, we had sold zero packs of this special edition. More than that, our conversion rate as decreased while users could choose between wax scented and regular version.

I’m not sure what might have gone wrong and is still unclear for me why we didn’t sell a single pack of Van der Waal special edition until today. Everything was working — I’ve checked all the details over and over again — and was a product that everyone wanted, right?

Wrong. What I’ve learned with this Van der Waal Wax scented (better said, sentenced) version is that not everyone wants what they say they want. And more than that, when people have to choose between two (or more) versions of the same product will cause some kind of paralysis, making them give up earlier.

Maybe next time I ask my customers to make a choice, I should read/watch this first.

And if you have several choices around your products, so should you 🙂