What is Buyer's Remorse and How to Stop it?

People buy on emotion. It’s a spur of the moment decision based on how your ‘pitch’ has made them feel. By ‘pitch’, I mean landing page, social media post, video, phone call, however you communicate your value proposition to your audience.In that moment, they want to feel good about themselves and believe that buying into your mission will help them to achieve that. It works. I’m sure you have experienced this as a consumer and buyer yourself.

The trouble is that they don’t call it ‘retail therapy’ for nothing. While it feels great spending money on a product or service that you really want. Once the purchase has been made and that momentary high is gone, regret and remorse sets in.

“Why did you buy that? Why did you spend money on something that you didn’t even need?”

Guilt starts to set in and that little voice in your head starts saying ‘return policy?’


Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio carried out a study on ‘The Importance Of Feelings’, in which he examined individuals who had damaged the part of the brain where emotions are generated. Aside from the specific damage that created the inability to feel emotions, all the individuals were otherwise normal.

After carrying out this extensive research study, the results showed a startling discovery. None of the participants were capable of making a decision. There were no emotion to compare the pros and cons of anything so when it came to decision making, they could apply logic to the situation but still struggled to make a decision.

What this research concluded was that people required emotion in order to make comparative decisions; to buy or not to buy?

There have been a number of other studies that back this hypothesis up.

Take the “Tale of Two Chickens” as an example. McCombs Marketing Professor Raj Raghunathan and Ph.D student Szu-Chi Huang carried out a similar research study that was designed to show the importance of emotion in a person’s decision making.

Participants of the study were shown two images of two chickens. One was a slightly a free-range chicken that looked well taken care of. In the second image, the chicken was genetically engineered. It was thin, missing many of it’s feathers and looked sick.

The researchers then told half of the participants that the plumper chicken was healthy but less tasty. The other half of the participants were told the opposite.

Results showed that groups preferred the free range chicken but interestingly they expressed opposite justification for their choice. The first half said it was because the chicken was healthier, the other half stated that taste was more important. So both groups made the decision and then went on to justify it.

This provides evidence to the fact people do buy on emotion and then they justify the purchase with logic.

For business owners, this can have a huge impact when it comes to dealing with buyer’s remorse.

It essentially means that while at times your customers might feel buyer’s remorse, there are steps you can take to help reassure them. You can help the justification process along and let them know they made a smart investment rather than a costly mistake. In doing so, you will not only keep the sale, you will strengthen the relationship with your customer enhancing customer lifetime value. There is also the bonus of helping your customer feel pretty darn good about their savvy risk-taking decision making.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some steps you can take.


Send a personal follow up where possible. This doesn’t mean setting up an email autoresponder or voice message system. I mean personally writing a letter, an email or taking time to make a quick phone call. If your consumer knows how much you appreciate them and their decision to buy from you, they are going to feel good about that and more importantly, feel good about you. The personal touch goes such a long way.

“Look after your customers and in turn, they will look after you.”


Bring your customers into your community. Evidence has shown people buy based on a positive emotional trigger. It’s only on the come down from that emotional high that they begin to feel buyer’s remorse. If you can continue to make your consumer feel amazing even after the purchase, they are far more likely to appreciate the purchase.

One way you can achieve this is by bringing all of your customers together as part of your brand. Make them feel as if they are part of something bigger. Let them become emotionally invested because it creates loyalty. This can be through a loyalty program, email list, online/offline group or any other exclusive set up.

Once people start to publicly acknowledge they are part of your community, they are less likely to leave it. This is where social media can play a key role in encouraging this interaction regardless of whether you are B2B, B2C or a Non-Profit/ For Purpose business.


Seek to over-deliver on value before purchase, during purchase and after purchase. Achieving the sale is just the first step. The hard part comes from retaining the customer. To do that, you need to be constantly providing value to your customers and reassuring them of the benefits they are receiving. This is going to help them utilise the products and/or services or more importantly the problem you are solving/ solution you provide.

Aim to create lifelong relationships opposed to one off sales. It’s about marriage rather than a one-night stand. Put in the effort with your consumers and above all else, let them know you genuinely care about taking them from where they are now to where they want to be. In doing so, you are going to reduce buyers remorse and build a business on a sustainable strategy for growth.

These are just a few steps you can take to combat buyer’s remorse but really, the list is endless. At the end of the day, your customers just want to know they are seen, they belong, they are loved and that you are invested in them.

Being able to build a business for and with your customers is a beautiful gift and one that should not only be considered but embraced at the core of each company’s culture.


Wenger, D. (2010) “Do You Make Buying Decisions Based on Logic or Emotion? A Tale of Two Chickens.” http://www.today.mccombs.utexas.edu/2010/04/do-you-make-buying-decisions-based-on-logic-or-emotion-a-tale-of-two-chickens

Damasio, A. et al. (2000) “Emotion, Decision Making and the Orbitofrontal Cortex.” https://academic.oup.com/cercor/article/10/3/295/449599/Emotion-Decision-Making-and-the-Orbitofrontal