Buyer’s Remorse: Understanding This Seemingly Irrational Behavior

by Terri Scott 4 Minutes

buyer s remorse Google SearchYou’ve probably heard of the term buyer’s remorse. You might know that it’s basically the condition a consumer experiences when they make a purchase they’ve come to regret.

Hey-maybe you’ve also experienced a bit of buyer’s remorse yourself.

But having said this, have you taken the time to consider how buyer’s remorse can have a negative impact upon your business? Yeah, it’s a term that usually associated with retail products. But the fact is, as a business owner, selling is part of your job description.

Whether you sell highly tangible or intangible products (or services), you take the risk that your consumer (or client) won’t be satisfied with their purchase. Some might like what they’ve purchased from you, but they start to feel like they’ve made a poor buying decision.

So as a business owner who either provides products or services, it’s up to you to get ahead of this issue so that it doesn’t stifle or kill your revenue-generating capabilities?

More to the point, did you know that there are steps that you (the product or service provider) can take to keep buyer’s remorse to a minimum?

And who knows? Perhaps you can eradicate buyer’s remorse when you take a few preventative measures. In the meantime, let’s take a deeper look into the phenomenon of buyer’s remorse so that you can understand its implications upon your business and revenue generation plans.

The Psychology Behind Buyer’s Remorse

In short, buyer’s remorse is the phenomenon that takes place when a consumer regrets their buying decision. More precisely, the consumer starts to experience anxiety about their buying decision.

When this takes place, the consumer usually tries to eliminate the anxiety and rectify their perceived poor buying decision by returning their product or canceling the service they’ve purchased.

It might seem illogical that a consumer would experience anxiety and regret regarding a purchase they made with a rational mind, but shoppers experience this quite often!

There are a few theories behind this:

  • They had to make a tough decision between two or more products
  • They made a purchase outside of the boundaries of their financial budget
  • They made an impulse purchase
  • They made a high ticket purchase with long-reaching implications

For example, a person might find themselves narrowing down their choice to one product out of several. When they make their final choice, they might experience pleasure and relief.

However, they might soon wonder if they actually made the right choice. Then they’ll start to feel silly, and they’ll feel that they are missing out on something.

Some consumers might experience shame after they’ve made their final decision, and they’ll aim to rectify their shame by returning their original purchase. The problem with this is, the consumer often won’t make a replacement purchase!

They’ll use their previous anxiety/shame to justify not spending any more money with the product or service provider, and they’ll forget their desire for the product or the service altogether!

Of course, encouraging impulse purchases are great for those who want to find creative ways to boost their receipts, but impulse purchases often spell bad-news for both the salesperson and the consumer.

Here’s the reason: The impulse buyer will often experience guilt for their lack of financial discipline. And if the impulse purchase was outside of the financial boundaries of the consumer, then they’ll become eager to shake off their guilt and shame by returning the product they’ve purchased, asking for a full-refund.

Needless to say, that’s not good news for you, and in some cases, this could cause a financially complicated return process if you’re not equipped with working capital that’s designated for financial refunds!

Finally, the consumer who makes an expensive purchase with far-reaching consequences (say, a home, a car, or even, expensive electronics or programs for their business) will often experience feelings of dread over their purchase, even if they desired and needed the purchase.

Again, when consumers of all levels experience feelings of dread, then they’ll do everything in their power to reverse the situation, which totally sucks and creates bad consequence for you, the retailer/business owner.

You Can Take Steps To Prevent Buyer’s Remorse

Beyond offering your products and services to consumers, there’s one more thing that you can offer that could go a long way in locking down your revenues:


You see, the buyer often wants to undo their purchase decision because of fear. But if you (or your sales team) do a great job of providing reassurance, then in most cases, you’ll notice that the percentage of your
returns will decrease significantly.

In fact, Andy Paul of Salesforce places the responsibility of preventing buyer’s remorse squarely at the feet of business owners, saying:

The fact is that buyer’s remorse points to a fundamentally flawed sales effort on your part. Buyer’s remorse is a signal from your customer that the decision to purchase from you was not an affirmative choice to buy the absolute best option.

Instead, it points to your customer’s decision being one of choosing what they perceived to be the least bad, or least risky, of their alternatives. In short, buyer’s remorse is a sign that you didn’t establish a fundamental level of trust with the prospect and make yourself the clear choice.

So, this is the first thing. Present your products and services to your customers (or clients) in a manner that allows them to feel confident that they’re making the right choice.

Specifically, you want to ensure that your customers (or clients) feel great about purchasing your specific products and services, time and again.

You do this by attending to (and even, anticipating) the needs of your customers. Learn how your products or services fit into the scheme of their lives. Ask them questions they might be dying to gain the answers to.

Anticipate their concerns. And focus less on making the most expensive sale, and focus on offering the best consumer experience your business could possible offer.

The Live Help blog also lists wonderful strategies for you to implement, such as carefully qualifying your prospects, presenting transparent contracts and sales processes, and educating your shoppers as much as

Investing in your customer’s buying experience might not always generate high-ticket receipts upfront, but they’ll be sure to generate repeat business in the long term. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Sticking around for the long-term, supported by a loyal base of people who love what you’re about?

And best of all, you won’t go crazy trying to reconcile revenue gains with revenue losses due to returned items!

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by Terri Scott
Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time. You can view her work at, and she'd love to hear from you: