How to prevent buyer’s remorse

As a marketer, buyer’s remorse is a sentiment that you don’t want associated with your brand. But how can you keep it at bay? Let’s take a look at 5 ways you can prevent buyer’s remorse.

What is buyer’s remorse?

At some point or another, we’ve all encountered buyer’s remorse – the feeling of regret that comes after we’ve made a purchase.

You might have felt it for something as unassuming as ice cream or for something more complex such as the purchase of a washing machine.

Buyer’s remorse is not a great feeling but it is very common and, according to science, perfectly normal.

It riddles the mind with thoughts like:

  • Did I really need this item?
  • Could I have found this product / service at a better price?
  • What if there’s a better alternative to this?

Such discomfort tends to be greater with high-involvement purchases. That is, when the purchase involves a higher risk, more ‘effort’, or greater ‘commitment’. Like when you buy a house or car.

‘Effort’, in this sense, refers to how much time is invested as well as financial matters like how much it cost or how much bargaining was involved.

‘Commitment’ refers to how long you’ll have to live with that purchase.

What causes it?

As a marketer, buyer’s remorse is not an emotion you want associated with your brand. It’s negative.

In most cases, buyer’s remorse makes the customer want to return the product or, much worse, prevents a customer buying from you ever again.

So to avoid or, at the very least, reduce buyer’s remorse, you have to know what prompts it.

Buyer’s remorse is triggered when:

  • We are faced with having to choose between similar offers;
  • It is difficult to differentiate between brands (i.e. we don’t initially see the difference);
  • When there’s a lack of information or when the information was misleading;
  • The item doesn’t meet expectations.

In other words, it stems from the fact that we are wired to avoid risks or anything that might bring about negative consequences. And once we’ve actually paid for something, we’re faced with the reality of associated risks – like a product / service’s quality.

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Earn customers’ trust

How to prevent buyer’s remorse

Customer satisfaction is key to your long-term success. Unsurprisingly, part of that satisfaction comes from feeling joy or pride about a purchase—not regret.

Here are 5 practices that can help your business keep the dreaded buyer’s remorse at bay.

Allow testing

Give customers the chance to touch, try, and interact with your product before committing to a purchase. This is something that you’ve definitely seen in use before.

You’ve even seen it online in the form of free trials you’re offered before having to commit to a service or monthly / annual subscription.

How to prevent buyer's remorse? Allow testing. This photo shows  various foundation products displayed on a shelf.
Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf

You’ve come across this at cosmetic stores, where there are testers for you to swatch before you commit to a specific product.

You’ve also probably tasted free bite-sized samples of a certain food item at your local supermarket.

These are all examples of allowing a customer to try a product first – to reduce the perceived risk – before committing to it and then regretting it later.

Provide proper information

Let’s be honest, there’s really nothing worse than expecting one thing (based on a product description) then getting something different. (Among others, that’s a sure-fire way of getting a lot of negative reviews!)

One of the most common reasons we feel buyer’s remorse is because what was purchased didn’t live up to expectations. That’s why there’s a lot riding on your e-commerce copy.

To prevent buyer’s remorse, the information you provide should be complete and accurate. Ideally, it should answer all the potential questions customers might have, need, or look for before having to ask for it.

All this without losing sight of the fact that your copy also has to get the job done, i.e. sell your product / service.

Put a premium on customer service

There’s nothing that will reinforce – and exacerbate – even just a tinge of regret than feeling like the company you’ve just purchased from doesn’t care about you.

Customers tend to feel that way when:

  • They suddenly can’t get a hold of you or they’re left waiting and waiting and waiting to hear back;
  • The representative they speak to isn’t able to respond to their query, allay their concerns, or provide prompt solutions;
  • They’re passed from one department to another for a solution.

That’s why you should make sure your customer service team is not only incredibly knowledgeable but also always quick to respond.

Under-promise, over-deliver

One of the most common reasons for buyer’s remorse is that the item purchased doesn’t meet expectations. As a rule of thumb: Under-promise and over-deliver. Pleasant surprises will go a long way!

For example: Rather than promising a 72-hour delivery turnaround, lower the customer’s expectation (e.g. “Your item will be delivered in 7 days”) then surprise – and impress! – with an earlier arrival.

Provide reassurance

It never hurts to reassure a customer of their choice immediately post-purchase and before the buyer’s remorse has a chance to sink in.

How can you do this?

Thank them for the purchase and reiterate why they’re going to love what they’ve just bought. Or share a fun fact or little-known benefit about your product.

Help your customer feel great about their decision to choose you and they’re less likely to regret it.

BONUS: Highlight the experience

You can also prevent (or at the very least minimize) buyer’s remorse by incorporating or marketing an experience.

This is effective because we tend to view experiences as unique. Since experiences are not easily interchangeable – that is, we can’t easily swap it with other similar alternatives on the market – we’re less likely to regret our choice.

An upcoming post will take a deeper look at this concept as well as the experience economy, so keep an eye out for that.

You might not be able to apply all of these methods to your specific business as is but you can adapt them to work for you.