Want to learn how to easily get your first 5,000 subscribers? Download this free eBook to learn how.

Why People Bought The White iPhone... When They Wanted The Black One
Last Updated February 29th, 2012

Back when the iPhone 3G first came out, people had two options: They could buy the black iPhone or the white iPhone.

You may think people made their decision based on their color preference, but as you’ll soon find out, it’s not that simple.

When people buy products, the reason why they buy is mysterious at best, and at worst, you’re left wondering “what the heck?”

However, today, you’re going to learn how people make choices, and more importantly, how you can influence those choices—Social Triggers style.

As smart entrepreneurs and business owners, I shouldn’t need to sell you on why this is important, so keep reading.

The Art of Choosing

To understand what makes people buy one product over another, I invited Sheena Iyengar to join me on the latest episode of Social Triggers Insider.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Who is Sheena Iyengar? The short of it is this: Sheena is a professor at Columbia Business school, and the author of the book “The Art of Choosing (aff).”

In addition to receiving high praise from Malcolm Gladwell—”No one asks better questions, or comes up with more intriguing answers”—Sheena has given three TED talks and is recognized as a world-renowned expert on choice.

Did you know Social Triggers Insider is now on iTunes? If you enjoy this series, please take a few seconds and leave an honest review. It would be a huge help.

In other words, you would be silly to miss out on this episode of Social Triggers Insider. Her insights have personally helped me accomplish a TON online.

(For example, you may remember my article about “How to Increase Sales by 600%.” Well, that was based off of her research).

What else will you learn during this Social Triggers Insider master class?

Here’s a list:

  • Why people bought the white iPhone—even when they wanted the black one
  • How the “Magazine Rack Effect” helps you organize your products and services
  • Why you need to give people a choice—even if you plan to make it for them
  • How price positions you as the “go to” product choice in an ultra-competitive market place
  • And much, much more.

Right click this link to save the audio as a MP3 file to your computer

Right click this link to save the transcript as a PDF file to your computer.

Also, during the episode, we talked about this research. So, if you’d like to dig into the academic stuff, there’s your link :-).

Here’s What You Need To Do Next…

Now that you listened to this episode of Social Triggers Insider, here’s what you need to do next:

  1. Education is meaningless without action. So, tell me what you learned from this episode, and how you plan to apply it to your business in the comment section.
  2. If you enjoyed this episode, do me a favor and share it on Twitter or Facebook. Or better yet, send a personal email to one of your friends whom you’d think would love this.
  3. This part is important. I’m currently at 51 reviews on iTunes, and I need to get to 70 reviews. If you have a few seconds, can you please go to iTunes and leave me an honest review (after subscribing).

And now that’s out of the way…

If you absolutely love these Social Triggers Insider episode, make sure you sign up for the Social Triggers email newsletter. In addition to these master classes, you’ll receive never before released content that will help you improve your business.

Spread the love!

Join OVER 200,000 subscribers


Click here to sign up

Need more? Choose your path below

68 comments Leave a comment
Mark Thomas

Once again Mr Halpern, you got me through a grueling run this morning.

In particular, I found your discussion on how people react positively to “loaded” choices rather interesting.

So if you are presenting your readers/customers/clients with options, you can help them on their way to making a decision by keeping the option count low and by providing an expert, but honest, opinion on the most suitable one.

Oh, by the way my iPhone is black as I have really no preference on colour or if every one else has the same, although I would be miffed if everyone one in my street went out and bought the same Porsche as me.

My actions from this podcast are to review the categories on my sites and make them more manageable while continuing to catch up on your back catalogue.

All the best


Awesome… So this is how psychology has to be applied to marketing. I’m a regular from now on, rest assured.

Yeah, the headline was shrewd, Great work!


TJ Loftus

Thought about this article again with new iPhone 5 announced today. I’m definitely going black this time, like I wanted to in the first place with the last white 4s I bought ;0)~


Christ, they really tortured dogs just so they could be better at selling crap to people? That’s reprehensible.

Heidi Thorne

Hi Derek,

I am finally catching up with my Social Triggers Insider reading & listening. While I’ve been traveling recently, I’ve been reading this book that is oh so relevant to this discussion: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman http://amzn.to/HAm225 If you’ve already posted your commentary on this incredible book, can you send me a link? If not, would love to hear what you think. Thanks for all you do!



Awesome study and excellent podcast!

I’ve downloaded all your podcasts and will be leaving you reviews..

Thanks for sharing this great information! Important for marketers like me!


David Hall

Hey — I love my white iPhone! It rocks.

I used to have the black one — but then I got awesomely hip. Now I’m all about the white. I also got the white iBook when they used to make them. And the week before I bought the iPhone I bought a fixie bike. Yeah — I’m THAT guy.

And I’m sure I just spent way too much time talking about something that was never really the heart of the conversation. But I just had to comment. That’s how much I love my white iPhone!

Thanks for the blog, by the way. Learning a lot. Or maybe not a lot if I just spent all this time defending the color my iPhone. 🙂

Well played…and keep up the awesome work!

David John Hall

Want to Stand Out in an Overcrowded Market ? Focus on these 3 Basics

[…] – you have to add something special that makes it stand out. That could mean including kick-ass and thought-provoking podcasts, using beautiful imagery or drawing your own cartoons to make your content break through the […]


Fantastic content Derek!

Keep up the amazing work. The psychological side of trading, in my market has an immense impact on individuals decision making, when investing.

Well done.


Alan | Life's Too Good

Hi Derek,

another great podcast. I LOVE your podcasts. I loved your articles too but the one thing I’m slightly confused about – are these now one and the same? I’m hoping the podcast doesn’t come at the expense of your more traditional & insightful articles – I love both.

It could just be me being thick but there seems to be less written stuff lately?

Is your plan to do both in each post or still separate?

either way you rock so please don’t take this as anything negative, just feedback, appreciation & curiosity 😉


Great post Derek. Very informing and entertaining. The title is just amazing.

David Swopes

Yo…great post! I really dig your content. Keep up the good work.


Nick Kugelman

Great post, and podcast. I just bought the book.


Love your blog… love the audio content.

Thanks for the post! Lots to think about…

Jose Rivera

You are gangster!

Trung Nguyen

The title of this post impressed me, when reading it, I just say “awesome” – I’ve learnt many lessons on this post. Thanks Derek.

Matthew Jeschke

Hi Derek, I’m really enjoying the blog! Glad I stumbled onto it 🙂 One thing I found particularly interesting was the dog and French vrs American Baby studies. I like the idea of empowering the customer with a suggested option but empowering them to make a choice either way. I just have to start thinking how to apply this to my specific product which is a one dimentional product w/o tangible options buy the DVD or not. I think perhaps saying what happens if you buy verses don’t by? Anyways, thanks so much for the excellent post!

Shaqir Hussyin :)

i love reading these comments Derek, ha!
subscribed to this via itunes! awesome man!

keep rockin it!

ps. how long or how many times did you think before creating that
haedline. ha!

D. Olutona

Hi! Love your podcasts, you’ve introduced me to some amazing people through it. Keep up the good work.
(ps, you know that Sheena is blind right? Why did ou ask her if she had seen the zappos.com website?)


Very interesting. Although, I think it was her dog that distracted my 3 dogs for part of the recording. A little hard to listen when 4 dogs were barking! 🙂

Besides that, I really learned a lot. Everything obviously related to how I make choices, right down to the white iphone. I know that if I hit a website and there is too much going on, I will just leave without selecting an option. I’m too overwhelmed – like the jam. But if I hit a website that is quite similar to the 3 by 3 rule – I’m much more likely to hang around and feel as though I’m really getting the options that I want. This is something that I’ve never really been aware of until now – so it’s something I’m going to have to look at for my websites.

So many insights. I found it interesting that you mentioned her book was $13 and my mind instantly went – only $13…how long is it or how much value does it have for $13? We really do associate price with value.

By the way, you are an excellent speaker and very easy to understand.

John Ballantrae

I’m a big fan of social triggers and its material, but I didn’t find this podcast that interesting. Sheena didn’t seem that engaged. Maybe she’s too distanced from general marketing.


So many golden nuggets. I had to listen twice. I love the ebook price. I’ve been trying to work that through into thought and bang! there you go.
Loving the shows.


Hi Derek,

I have been here for a few weeks and like it a lot!

Keep it up!

Ann Moreno

Could you please label your podcast with the length of time it runs? I had no idea it was as long as it was–great info, but I ran out of time!

kimanzi constable

Another great podcast Derek, really glad you deicded to get into podcasting!


Thanks for this Derek. Very interesting, i think this feeling being out of control even when we’re not is so important to grasp in all areas of our lives. My twitter followers must read and listen to this.


Regarding the study quoted about learned helplessness… I just don’t think it’s ok to make dogs (or any animal for that matter) suffer just to better understand human behavior. I believe that in using the information from these researchers, it supports what they did and encourages them to do it again. For me, the description of the study just colored the whole interview a dark shade a grey which is unfortunate because you are a brilliant online resource!

    Derek Halpern

    Michelle, many of these studies by Martin Seligman were done 30 or 40 years ago. It doesn’t make it okay, but they’re said and done with. Ignoring them would be equivalent to ignoring “everything” that happened in the past, which is essentially equivalent to burying your head in the ground.


      Fair enough. But the emotional response you’ll get from some readers when referencing such studies is worth considering. Emotions do impact consumer habits! (But you already know that 😉


Great stuff Derek, I love your articles and podcasts. Thank you for creating this info! Posted to FB 😉

    Derek Halpern

    Thank you Igor!

Michael Paul Catlin

Hi Derrick – you have kindly given me advice from about five different angles now – informative?enlightening,reinforcing and delighting.

You know as well as I do that you can’t get higher than delighting and surpassing the expectations of the customer.

Many thanks from England

    Derek Halpern

    Thanks Michael. Glad you enjoyed the podcast.


@Derek: keep up the good work !

I would like to request more case studies to the below specific interests of mine.

1) A web page layout which would increase conversions.
2) Product page layout.
3) Reduce bounce rate.


    Derek Halpern

    Thank you for reaching out Vishal. Will look into it.


Dear Derek,

an amazing podcast. Is there any option to get ones hand on a transcript of the show? I will rewind and take more notes otherwise, ok, but if you can help in this regard, I’d be grateful.

Keep up the good content!

    Derek Halpern

    Yes, I provide a transcript, often a day or two after the podcast comes out.

Kellie Brooks

What!? I’m a conformist!? Just because I’m one of 11,000 subscribers? And all this time I’ve been carefully cultivating a contrarian stance, and now that Christopher Hitchens has sadly passed on; I was certain I was unique in my railing against convention. 😉

I loved this podcast, Derek; there’s a lot of richness here. When Sheena talked about categories, it reminded me of one of my productivity tricks. When my weekly or monthly project to-do list starts seeming like a wild stallion, I break it down into categories. I’m amazed at how much more I get done that way – it just seems more manageable.

Q: Am I understanding this correctly: as I niche down in my business, I want to have many categories on my site, in order to highlight a lot of content? Or do I want to have just a few categories, and depth of content in each?

Thanks for yet another valuable training! Looking forward to cracking her book.

    Derek Halpern

    I would have few categories with in-depth content. But as more categories become necessary, you can expand to as many as 7 or 10 categories.

Josh Sarz

Interesting talk about choices, Derek. I was interested particularly with the section about categories on websites.

You guys talked about how having more categories with lesser stuff was doing better with having less categories that have A LOT of stuff in it. Precisely why resource pages work so well. It’s not as massive and daunting as category pages, and only highlights the best content of that specific category.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful interview.

    Derek Halpern

    You’re welcome. The idea of category pages with stuff on it is precisely why I promote resource pages. It’s called chunking.


Derek, I’m curious why you need 70 reviews? Is there a certain formula that you’re going by? Also, would you consider writing a post on how to create a popular podcast?



    Derek Halpern

    Because I don’t have them. I’m not going by a formula, I just want to keep getting more reviews — that’s all.

    And to create a popular podcast, it’s like anything else. Build an email list first.

Paul Serwin

Love your podcasts! I love the unique approach you bring into the information you present. Everybody should definitely subscribe if they are serious about increasing their business!

    Derek Halpern

    Thank you Paul. Did you have the opportunity to leave a review on iTunes yet?

Courtney Orillion Jewelry

Thanks Derek! I always find your content helpful. I loved the points about using more categories. My online jewelry store could definitely benefit from doing a bit of reorganizing.

    Derek Halpern

    Well — I don’t think I said to use more categories per se. I think you need to use just enough categories… but don’t overload your site with categories for no reason.

Brian Kwong

Love the last study of how people use price as an indicator to make choices and the difference between a low and a high end product when that happens.

Thanks for this awesome interview Derek!

    Derek Halpern

    Glad you liked it. That’s a great study, for sure. Interesting how a price increase is a clear differentiator in a crowded marketplace. It’s good for the customer and the business.

Jaime Rowe

Great show Derek! I’ll leave a review on iTunes for you 😉

    Derek Halpern

    Hi Jaime, thanks! You’re the best.

Sarah Diemer

Hi, Derek! I realized I’ve not commented here, though I’ve read every post and listened to every Insider you’ve done. I LOVE your perspective, and believed, right away, that it would work for self published fiction authors, too, so I started to implement what you talked about on my blog. First thing I noticed: sales went up, and that was with the little stuff of giving one choice, loading down my sidebar with less, etc. I’ve used other tactics you’ve recommended, and they’ve all worked like magic. You know what you’re talking about, and I’m incredibly impressed and grateful at what you offer–I keep sending people here and talking about your awesomeness. Keep up the great work!

(And yes, this was my favorite Insider yet!)

    Derek Halpern

    Sarah, that’s awesome to hear. I’m glad to hear my advice has worked for fiction authors.

    I’m also glad you’ve finally decided to comment. Hope to see you around here more often 🙂

Ameena Falchetto

Awesome podcast – really. Confirmed everything I’ve been thinking.

    Derek Halpern

    Glad you enjoyed it Ameena

Heidi DeCoux

Derek, you make my heart go pitter-pat. I love how you think, how you present, how you ask questions, the content you provide…shall I keep going? 😉

    Derek Halpern

    Hold on. Let me clear my schedule. Keep going. Ha ha.

    Thanks for the kind words Heidi.


Can’t wait to listen to this one…humans are complicated, irrational creatures and its brilliant how you highlight this…(and even use human psychology tactics to get us to read about human psychology…love it)

    Derek Halpern

    Who would I be to teach this type of stuff, if I didn’t know how to use it? 🙂

Jason Anthony

Cant wait to check this out, Derek. Love that theres the option to download.

    Derek Halpern

    You should also subscribe on iTunes—if you use an ipod of iphone that is.

Gregory Ciotti

Loved Sheena’s book, downloading this for later.

By the way, the new mic sounds great.

    Derek Halpern

    That’s not the new mic. That’s still the old mic :-).

    I have a TON of Social Triggers Insider episodes that are already done. You won’t start hearing the new mic for a little while.

      Adam Clinckett

      My iTunes podcast folder is eagerly awaiting your ton of podcasts.
      I love the jam example.


So cool that you got Sheena on board – I know “everybody” has quoted the jam study by now, but as usually you kick it up a notch (or a few!).

    Derek Halpern

    Yea, I first wrote about the Jam study when I launched Social Triggers. I figured getting Sheena on here would be great, and I’m glad that she was down for it.

Nick Reese

Derek — That is the sexiest headline ever. Stoked to hear the podcast.

    Derek Halpern


Leave a comment