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Strategies that Minimize Buyer’s Remorse

Last night, I popped into Lush Cosmetics because I had time to spare and love the smells that always accompany the business. Without any plans to purchase, I perused the bath-bombs and happened upon the shampoo bars. Having the average amount of green-guilt we all tend to have, I’ve always been intrigued by this little plastic-free alternative to bottled shampoo. After chatting with the manager about the pros and cons of the shampoo bar, I started walking away deciding that a shampoo double the price of my usual bottle wasn’t justifiable. Then came these fateful words:

You know, you can buy it and use it a few times, if you like it, great. If you don’t, come back in and you can exchange or get your money back. It’s really no skin off your back to try.

Ten minutes later, I walk out of that store with a Shampoo bar, a conditioner bar, and little tins to hold them. What made me impulsively and completely shift my entire shower routine – not to mention spend double what I usually spend on products? The knowledge that I will never have the sour taste of buyer’s remorse in my mouth with this purchase.

Chances are, even if I wasn’t completely blown away by the products, I wouldn’t take the time to return them. Sometimes, it truly is the thought that counts.

Understanding the psychology around buyer’s remorse and purchase processes could be the differentiator that turns potential customers into customers.

The psychology behind buyer’s remorse

Buyer’s remorse is defined as the feeling of regret one sometimes experiences after a purchase. Buyer’s remorse isn’t inherently bad. We’ve all experienced it with larger purchases even when we loved and still love the product. However, if companies don’t set themselves and their customers up for success, buyer’s remorse can have some painful consequences. This feeling can lead to returns, or even worse – the customer can reject any future purchases from the brand. Because if memories of a brand are intertwined with feelings of regret and dissatisfaction, who in their right mind would try that again? Understanding the psychology around buyer’s remorse and purchase processes could be clarity you need to turn potential customers into loyal supporters.

Customers can learn a ton about the personality and character of companies through their pricing strategies and purchase rules. Whether the company is a luxury brand or an economic choice. How confident a company is that their product will satisfy the customer.

The name of the game with pricing and purchase strategies should be honesty, fairness, and clarity from the get-go. This means be clear about full prices. Be honest with individuals looking for economical product recommendations. Offer easy exchanges for people trying new products.

A great example of a bait-and-switch: Online ticket sales.

What not to do: 

Any tactics or strategies the opposite of clear, fair, and honest will inevitably end in buyer’s remorse.

Bait and switch: In extreme cases, this can be advertising goods which are an apparent bargain, to substitute inferior or more expensive goods. However, this tactic can still manifest in less extreme ways that feel just as shady. When I think of modern (and unfortunately legal) bait-and-switch tactics, my mind always jumps to online ticket sales platforms. Tickets are promoted as $50, and then at the very last step of the purchase process, they hit you with a painful $12 ‘online ticketing fee’. Ouch.

Annoying Up-sell: Up-selling can be a great customer relations tactic that benefits both the customer and the company. But, if you are completely disregarding the cheaper product and push the more expensive ones down people’s throats, you cannibalize your cheaper product and customers are now looking at a product they didn’t mentally prepare or budget for.

Lack of interoperability: A lack of interoperability can cause bad buyer’s remorse through unknown but necessary extra purchases to get the most out of a product. Picture Apple: each new product that is introduced can be used less and less with its older products. Newer phones can’t use normal or traditional headphones without another adapter. This lack of interoperability is to ultimately persuade you to purchase the $150 AirPods.

Overpromise and Underdeliver: This is a big one for agencies or subscription-based companies. Don’t sell someone a product you don’t believe in and don’t offer up services you can’t commit to. It can be exciting to land a sale – but if you don’t continuously impress your customer, they’ll back out pretty quick.

All this to say: keep your pricing strategies and purchase processes with customer peace of mind as a main priority. By actively avoiding reasons for buyer’s remorse, your customer base will trust and remember your brand. No matter what your company goals are, there are methods for minimizing the chance of bad buyer’s remorse.

If you want to…

To increase engagement and support around a new company 

If you’re a new company looking to boost engagement and create your audience, a great way to reach this goal is through active social promos.

Picture the ‘share this story to get a discount on our new product’. To successfully enact this strategy, your product needs to be moderately priced to compensate for the common discount campaigns you have planned. Don’t price product or service so low that you can’t run regular discounts 

Post discounts on all platforms to stay front of mind to viewers and for continued SM activity. For best results:

  • Schedule discounts for the end of the month instead of the beginning. A customer is likely to react to their smaller ‘end of month’ budget by being more susceptible to discount opportunities.
  • Offer a reason for the discount. It can be as simple as ‘online clearance’ or specific to an annual holiday or event, but the reason can add peace of mind to the consumer. They can justify the purchase through this reason instead of wondering if a company is trying to push a less-popular product.
Rolex doesn’t list prices on the product pages – they instead offer videos, downloadable brochures, and details on machinery. To find pricing, you need to reach out to the Rolex team.

Keep the status of a luxury brand 

With luxury brands and products, buyer’s remorse is a given. That doesn’t mean there aren’t tactics you can take to minimize the effects of buyer’s remorse. By establishing your brand as a luxury brand through every step in the purchase process, it helps your customer mentally prepare for a big-ticket product purchase.

  • Don’t promote pricing at every stage; promote the luxury benefits, bells, and whistles. If you offer up the price too early on a luxury product, the customer can write off the brand as too expensive before understanding WHY the product is expensive. Offer up consultations over posting pricing details on the website to offer exceptional customer service. This communicates that while the purchase is expensive, it is expensive for a reason.
  • Don’t promote discounts on luxury brands. This can cannibalize your original prices and decrease your reputation as a luxury brand.

Turn free users into paying customers 

This strategy is mostly relevant for software subscriptions or online services. By offering a valuable free product, customers can build their trust in your company with no risk of buyer’s remorse.

Offer this standalone free product, but make sure the core competency aspects are gated. The most valuable aspects of your product should be limited to paid subscribers.

For example, Moz local offers a free platform functionality that indicates where your business has gaps in its local online listings. This information is useful on its own for understanding a company’s areas for improvement. However, you need to have a paid subscription to Moz local to act on and fix these issues.

Build a strong loyal customer base 

Prioritizing customer service and relationship marketing is the single-best way to minimize the negative effects of buyer’s remorse. Make sure your customer knows that your communication isn’t cut off the second they enter their credit card info. Having your customers understand you’re there post-purchase can be enough to stifle any post-purchase regret, and stimulate repeat purchases and brand loyalty.

  • Offer easy exchange and refund policies. Exactly as happened to me in the story in the intro, this alone can be enough to offer peace of mind. This means refund guarantees, paid refund shipping, and lenient refund time limitations. It may cost more than strict refund policies, but it can lead to a priceless brand reputation.
  • Offer post-purchase communication. This can be product surveys, product how-tos, or incentive repeat purchases. This post-purchase outreach communicates a desire for a lasting relationship and ultimately brand loyalty.

Grow customer base quickly 

Growing a customer base should not be coming from your company’s mouth, but the mouths of your existing satisfied customers. Positive reviews are strong indicators that customers don’t experience large amounts of buyer’s remorse with your product. Encourage this word-of-mouth marketing to increase potential-customer trust in your brand.

  • Offer up a referral program. Reach out to your current loyal customers to enter a referral program. Incentivize the program with discounts for both the referrer and referral.
  • Test out an ambassador program with a commission. Similar to a referral program, but targeting customers with a large or active following. Finding the right ambassador or influencer can stimulate new interest in your brand.

Are you ready to engage and impress your customers both pre and post-purchase? Reach out to our team to find the right relationship marketing tactics for your company!

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