What Is Buyer’s Remorse? Buyer’s Remorse In A Nutshell

Buyer’s remorse normally occurs after a sizeable purchase has been made. These purchases include expensive items such as cars, homes, shoes, electronics, and exercise equipment. However, the phenomenon can also be observed after smaller purchases involving supermarket groceries, cosmetic items, and kitchen gadgets. Buyer’s remorse, therefore, is a feeling of regret or anxiety that occurs after a purchase is made.

Understanding buyer’s remorse

The negative feelings that arise after such a purchase are caused by cognitive dissonance. This is a form of mental discomfort that arises when the individual holds beliefs, values, or attitudes that conflict with one another.

In the context of consumer psychology, dissonance occurs when the individual wants to do whatever makes them happy in the moment while simultaneously understanding that the purchase comes with inherent risks and consequences. After a purchase is made, a feeling of regret can then take hold as the individual considers alternate courses of action.

The severity of regret – and by extension, buyer’s remorse – is caused by three core factors:

  • Responsibility – regret may intensify when the individual realizes there is no one to blame but themselves.
  • Effort – or the amount of time or money used in the purchase decision, and
  • Commitment – whether real or imagined, the individual can feel remorse if they believe they must live with the product or service for a long time.

What causes buyer’s remorse?

According to business information company The Hustle, the five most prevalent reasons (with multiple answers accepted) for buyer’s remorse across more than 2,000 study participants included:

  1. A product that didn’t meet expectations (58%), perhaps in terms of quality or performance.
  2. A product the consumer didn’t ultimately use (30%).
  3. A product the consumer felt they spend too much money on (20%).
  4. The subsequent discovery of a product that represented a better deal (15%), and
  5. A product the consumer didn’t ultimately need (15%).

How to avoid buyer’s remorse

To avoid buyer’s remorse, there are multiple strategies:

  • Purchase experiences over material products – experiences such as vacations, concerts, and skydiving tend to result in less buyer’s remorse. This is because it is more difficult to compare one experience to another, reducing the likelihood that an individual will feel regret over a course of action not taken. Research has also shown that experiences create sustainable memories that eclipse the short-term boost in happiness that a material item tends to produce.
  • Err on the side of caution – if there is even the slightest hint of doubt in a purchasing decision, then it is better not to purchase. Why? Because the regret associated with not purchasing a product tends to be less severe than the regret that occurs after a purchase has been made.
  • Avoid sales – sales often cause impulse buying which then leads to regret. Promotional events make it easy to justify a purchase at the time, but no amount of discount can compensate for a product that is unwanted or unneeded. 
  • Give to others – for individuals who consider themselves shopaholics, a good way to avoid buyer’s remorse is to simply purchase gifts for others.
  • Focus on personal development – in one study of millennial consumers and financial regret, researchers found that participants were most satisfied with purchases that enriched their own lives, whether that be related to community, arts, healthcare, or education.

Key takeaways:

  • Buyer’s remorse is a feeling of regret or anxiety that occurs after a purchase is made. The feeling itself arises due to cognitive dissonance.
  • Buyer’s remorse is caused by a product that didn’t meet expectations or by one that was deemed too expensive or not ultimately used or needed. The presence of a more suitable alternative is also a contributor.
  • Buyer’s remorse can be avoided by purchasing experiences over material items, ignoring sales promotions, buying gifts for others, and focusing on personal development.

Marketing Glossary

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Ambush Marketing

As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Brand Building

Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Equity

The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Business Storytelling

Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Digital Marketing

A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Personas

Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Niche Marketing

A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

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