How to Guides

What is Buyer’s Remorse?

April 12, 2021 , 4 minutes

When we talk about buyer’s remorse, we usually refer to that feeling of regret we experience after spending money. Usually a sizeable amount of money, although we can feel regret about small purchases too. It could be that the item doesn’t meet your expectations because it doesn’t do what you thought it would. Or maybe you simply regret it because after wanting it so badly in the store, you’ve got the item home and realise you don’t really need it at all.

Let’s have a look at why we often end up with buyer’s remorse, and how we can avoid it.

To Buy or Not to Buy

Whenever we go to make a purchase, there’s an unseen battle going on in our minds. We don’t even know it’s happening at the time, however that doesn’t stop the war from waging on.

In modern psychology, the term ‘approach-avoidance conflict’ was coined by psychologist Kurt Lewin. While the theory is based more broadly around decision making in general, it’s also the driving force behind our decisions to make a purchase.

On one hand, we have avoidance, which is our natural instinct to be careful, considered and avoid risks at all costs. This is where you will focus more on the negative possibilities of the purchase such as ‘does it cost too much?’ or ‘is it really the item I need?’.

In the opposing corner is the approach, which is where our mind will focus on all the positive aspects of the purchase – particularly the fact that it will make us happy right now.

Generally, whichever more strongly aligns with your goal will win the fight. For example, if you desperately want to move to a new house, your approach system is likely to be stronger and ignore the negative aspects. If you have no immediate need to move house, your avoidance system is likely to be working far better.

Defend or Accept?

After you’ve made your purchase is when the buyer’s remorse can start to set in. You were excited in the store when you tried on the new pair of jeans, and your approach system won out. But now you’ve got them home and put them in the cupboard with the rest of your jeans and the avoidance system can take hold again, asking whether you really needed another pair.

When we experience this buyer’s remorse, it’s up to us whether to defend our actions or accept the mistake we’ve made. One way of defending a bad purchase might be to avoid responsibility by claiming the salesperson lied to you, or suggest your spouse told you it was essential you buy a new dining table. It’s a natural reaction to try and deflect blame.

However, particularly with impulse purchases, the negative effects of the purchase are too obvious to defend. The process of accepting a bad purchase is usually more common when the flawed purchase has public consequences, like you can’t go to dinner with friends because you spent too much, or your used car is always breaking down.

How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

In the modern world, it’s common to feel buyer’s remorse because we often incorrectly assume that material purchases will bring us happiness. This is particularly prevalent now that we can shop online from our couches – sometimes the buyer’s remorse sets in even before the item is delivered!

Rather than looking for a quick burst of happiness from purchasing a material item, a way to avoid buyer’s remorse is to spend money on experiences rather than products. For example, the memories and happiness gained from a weekend away with friends is going to be long-lasting, unlike those new jeans that you’re almost instantly ashamed to have bought.

It could be sky-diving, scuba diving, backpacking through Europe, or even a weekend camping with the family. At the end of the day, these experiences are unique and you have control over how they play out and the memories you create. As such, you’re far less likely to experience buyer’s remorse once the experience is over.

While we can’t stop you from making those impulse purchases, we can certainly help you avoid buyer’s remorse when it comes to hiring marketing consultantsContact us at Cemoh today, and let us help take your business to the next level – without the buyer’s remorse!