People like choices. But give an e-commerce customer too many choices and they’ll bounce before checkout. Product recommendation quizzes give digital marketers a chance to gather data while guiding customers to the right product in a way that’s actually fun.
The trouble with choices in e-commerce
Analysis paralysis is as troubling as it sounds. It’s what happens when we’re confronted with too many menu items or Netflix shows: nothing. Overwhelmed by options, people can disengage.
There’s proof — just look at the 2000 paper “When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?” In one of the paper’s studies, researchers looked at the relationship between in-store jam displays and jam sales.
Grocery shoppers in the study encountered either a display of 24 jams, or a display of six. More shoppers stopped for samples at the larger display — but counterintuitively, after seeing the small display, shoppers were 10 times more likely to buy jam than they were after seeing the big one.
More choices meant more attention, but far fewer conversions.
E-commerce isn’t immune to this phenomenon — just look how many digital shops have abandoned-cart emails! — but online stores often sell hundreds, if not thousands of items. (Amazon sells more than ten million.)
The rationale typically goes that “more is better” and “customers want choices.”
But “[c]hoice can no longer be used to justify a marketing strategy in and of itself,” author and psychology professor Barry Schwartz writes in the Harvard Business Review. “More isn’t always better, either for the customer or for the retailer.”
Why product recommendation quizzes work in e-commerce
Now, in a brick-and-mortar store, when you feel overwhelmed by jam, you can at least ask a salesperson for help.
How do you replicate that personalized experience online?
- Hire a customer service team to respond to questions via chatbots — but that’s expensive to scale, so it’s often reserved for customers having problems.
- Build a product recommendation algorithm, a la Amazon — but that requires a lot of data (and data scientists).
- Attack visitors with pop-up surveys — but no one appreciates that.
A more scalable, accessible option: product recommendation quizzes.
These can help e-commerce stores access zero-party data — uniquely actionable information, like a user’s hair type, that you could never get through cookies — and provide personalized recommendations.
Quizzes can even out personalized products, which Deloitte found are worth a premium price to 25% of customers.
Here are 12 examples of popular DTC brands using product-recommendation quizzes to boost their e-commerce marketing, selected by Prehook Co-Founder Gen Furukawa, who specializes in interactive quizzes for Shopify.
12 Examples of E-commerce Quizzes
Quiz overview: This women’s lingerie brand found success by taking the bra-fitting process online. In 2014, Third Love turned the lingerie industry on its head with this 60-second quiz. Since then, more than four million women have been “fitted” via online quiz.
Nice touch: Third Love uses quiz data to inform an abandoned cart campaign with custom picks — “Saw these, thought of you.”
What the seller gets: Lots of useful data on fit and comfort, and common pain points. Those who make it all the way through are asked to submit their email as well.
What the user gets: Bras recommended for their size and shape.
How the quiz gets distributed: “Find my Fit” is the second CTA on the homepage, right next to “Find Bras.”
Quiz overview: This six-question shade finder quiz from Rihanna’s makeup brand helps shoppers discover the perfect foundation shade for their skin tone, without testing different colors in a store
Nice touch: Encouraging, conversational phrases pepper the copy, like “all good” and “we got you.”
What the seller gets: Market data and some new email subscribers.
What the user gets: Their shade number and product recommendations. Users have the option to get their quiz results via email, add to cart, or save for later.
How the quiz gets distributed: This quiz sits in the top navigation of Fenty’s homepage.
Quiz overview: This DTC roasted-to-order coffee brand’s seven-question quiz asks new visitors about their coffee personality — how much do they know about coffee? How do they brew their java at home?
Nice touch: Users can answer with “I defer to you” on questions like “What roast level do you typically enjoy?” Smart — not everyone has a strong preference (or knows their preferences yet).
What the seller gets: Actionable data on users’ tastes.
What the user gets: A personalized coffee bean recommendation.
How the quiz gets distributed: On Trade Coffee’s homepage — just scroll down past the “Shop Now” module — and in Facebook retargeting ads like this one.
Quiz overview: Birchbox, a beauty subscription service, builds FOMO in their 5-step teaser quiz on skincare, hair, and personal style preferences.
Nice touch: The quiz’s checkbox style. There’s something satisfying about scribbling in even virtual boxes.
What the seller gets: Data. And ideally, recurring revenue. Though Birchbox doesn’t require an email to start the quiz, to get results, you need to buy a subscription.
What the user gets: All or nothing — nothing without paying, or a personalized, discounted beauty box if they subscribe. (In a static banner throughout, Birchbox dangles a discount code.)
How the quiz gets distributed: Via Facebook ad. Also, Google.
Quiz overview: IPSY wasn’t going to let a competitor have all the fun. Unlike Birchbox, this beauty subscription brand's 12-part quiz includes color swatches and photos to help people visualize their future makeup cabinet.
Nice touch: They ask about favorite beauty brands, but don’t assume you’re experienced. One question reads: “Which of these beauty brands do you love (or would love to try)”?
What the seller gets: Data on users’ physical traits, behavior and preferences.
What the user gets: A gamified (well, quizzified) profile setup.
How the quiz gets distributed: Via Facebook and Instagram ads. You can also just Google “IPSY quiz.”
Dollar Shave Club.
Quiz overview: Dollar Shave Club’s grooming quiz is one of the better product recommendation quizzes out there. It takes under a minute to assess your grooming and hygiene routines, recommend a subscription plan, and itemize that plan so you can scale up or down as needed.
Nice touch: They provide the “why” for each recommendation, “Because your hair is wavy” and “Because you shave every day.”
What the seller gets: Useful data, and likely a higher AOV. If you go to the site for blade refills and take the quiz, the results could double your spend.
What the user gets: Free product recommendations. Literally — no email, name, or profile is required to get your results.
How the quiz gets distributed: Dollar Shave Club is all-in on this quiz. On the homepage, the main CTA directs folks to the quiz.
Sundays for Dogs.
Quiz overview: This healthy dog food brand frames its consultative quiz as a conversation with a veterinarian, Dr. Tory. She wants to know your dog’s name, age, breed, activity levels and more.
Nice touch: Sundays personalizes the experience by calling the user’s dog by name throughout.
What the seller gets: Lead capture, plus zero-party dog data. (Well, it’s not straight from the dogs — so maybe it’s first-party.)
What the user gets: On the results page, users are guided directly to a product recommendation, complete with meal price comparisons — so you can see how one dog breakfast from Sundays compares to one morning brew for you.
How the quiz gets distributed: Sundays for Dogs follows a strategy similar to Dollar Shave Club — the main CTA on the homepage takes visitors to the quiz.
Quiz overview: Gainful’s quick quiz creates a personalized protein powder, “formulated for you.”
Nice touch: By personalized, I mean name-on-packaging personalized.
What the seller gets: Demographic and behavioral data along with name, email, and phone number. What more could a marketing team want?
What the user gets: Their own protein concoction — and free shipping.
How the quiz gets distributed: The top-right corner button and banner CTAs on the homepage direct traffic to the quiz.
Quiz overview: Haircare brand Living Proof uses an eight-question quiz to recommend products and collect valuable data.
Nice touch: Recommended products are broken up into numbered steps — first shampoos, then conditioners, then stylers and treatments. It feels neat and methodical.
What the seller gets: On top of valuable user data, Living Proof gives themselves a good opportunity to gain email, name, age, and several purchases.
What the user gets: A customized hair care plan that tackles their core concerns.
How the quiz gets distributed: “Hair Care Quiz” is listed on the primary navigation bar.
Quiz overview: This weight loss app uses a three-step quiz to simultaneously assess and market to customers. It highlights Noom’s customer success data throughout, with copy like “We’ve helped 1,534,282 people successfully lose weight.”
Nice touch: While users can pay as low as $0.50 for a trial diet course, Noom offers a compelling reason to pay full price: “It costs us $18.37 to compensate our Noom employees for the trial, but please choose the amount you are comfortable with.”
What the seller gets: Data on physical attributes — age, weight, height — and health habits.
What the user gets: A personalized two-month diet that factors in your current state, limitations, and dieting track record. The catch — you only have 15 minutes to claim it.
How the quiz gets distributed: Like many other e-commerce quizzes I come across, the homepage points visitors (literally — there’s a bouncing arrow) to the “psychology-based evaluation.”
Quiz overview: This DTC contacts brand gives web visitors a five-question quiz about contacts.
Nice touch: To incentivize users to take their quiz, Hubble offers anyone who completes it either a $1 box of Hubble contacts, or 40% off the brand of their choice. You can see how a deal like that would create traction on social media (and it has).
What the seller gets: Assuming they turn quiz-takers into repeat customers at a higher rate, this is likely profitable for Hubble. And the data gathered in the quiz allows for more tailored content marketing, and likely a higher LTV.
What the user gets: A steeply discounted box of contacts.
How the quiz gets distributed: It’s highlighted in a homepage banner.
Quiz overview: The shortest product recommendation quiz I’ve seen, Y-OUR Skin’s quiz asks for an email address after four quick questions.
Nice touch: Value props and reviews at the bottom of the landing page likely help them seal the deal (for people interested enough to scroll that far down).
What the seller gets: Actionable skin data to use in email campaigns and product research. And, likely, a conversion rate boost.
What the user gets: In exchange for a few seconds and an email, users get a custom skin report, product recommendations and free shipping on any order they place.
How the quiz gets distributed: By a homepage banner.
Quiz overview: Native’s light-hearted scent quiz turns preferences into a deodorant recommendation so personalized, your name is literally printed on the tube.
Nice touch: It feels more like a BuzzFeed quiz than a market research survey.
The first question sets a nice tone: “Your life has been made into a feature film. What section can you find it in?”
What the seller gets: This quiz takes the time to explore the user’s personality, which means Native gets brand affinity as well as a better sense (scents?) of their customer base.
What the user gets: A personalized deodorant.
How the quiz gets distributed: While it’s searchable, it’s not listed on the homepage. Our best guess? Landing page for paid traffic.
Which e-commerce industries can benefit most from product recommendation quizzes?
As you saw from the examples, this is a popular play for beauty brands — like IPSY, Y-OUR Skin and Fenty — because they sell a large number of SKUs, and products that suit everyone are a rarity.
Health and food sectors — where metrics based on diet and exercise come into play — can also benefit from a well-planned quiz. Trade Coffee, Noom, and even Sundays for Dogs fall into this category.
How to get started on your own e-commerce product recommendation quiz
If you could ask your customers anything, what would you ask?
Think about the conversations on social media, your inbound support tickets, and feedback from customers. What information would help you help your audience — and save your support team time?
Product recommendation quizzes allow you to ask users a series of questions in a scalable, conversational way — sometimes through a spokesperson, like Dr. Tory in the Sundays for Dogs example.
A few questions to help you build your first e-commerce quiz:
- What questions do your customers ask most often?
- What are the biggest challenges that your customers face?
- What information about your customers would be most helpful to your marketing campaigns team?
- How can you help your customers reach their goals?
- How can you use quizzes from similar brands as templates?
- How can you use quizzes to re-engage an old email list? A sad CRM pipeline?
Product recommendation quizzes are personalization genies
E-commerce is transactional by default. Product recommendation quizzes are your chance to make it personal.
Product recommendation quizzes pave a smooth path to purchase, where the shopper is presented with the best product for their needs and a full cart is a click away.
“A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them,” Steve Jobs famously told Business Week.
E-commerce quizzes are scalable personal shoppers. Through customization, you show customers exactly what they want, with minimal lift for buyer and seller — and collect zero-party data, too.