Buyer’s Remorse: What It Is and How to Prevent It.

4th Ink lab
7 min readOct 25, 2021

As a seller, imagine cultivating what you believe to be a lucrative customer relationship. Suddenly, the sentiment takes a 180-degree turn and crumbles right when you’re about to close a sweet deal on an expensive product.

Can you imagine having to face the dreaded aftermath when a customer has second thoughts and decides that the purchase isn’t worth it, too expensive, or is an over-indulgence?

This article will address everything there is to know about buyer’s remorse, what causes it, and how to prevent it.

What is Buyer’s Remorse?

As a customer, have you ever impulse-bought an item only to question yourself later whether it was worth that $200.

OR, if there was a better option?

Buyer’s remorse is a period of mental discomfort accompanied by feelings of guilt and regret in response to making an expensive/ unplanned for purchase.

Fear or overwhelming stress that makes you want to return the item immediately will always follow these feelings of culpability.

While it’s hard to tell when buyer’s remorse will strike, a whopping 82% of shoppers report experiencing instant regret after purchasing something as insignificant as candy or as serious as a home.

What Causes Buyer’s Remorse?

When making an impulse purchase, two distinct processing systems are waging a neural war inside of your brain:

  1. The Avoidance Motivational System — Which tells warns you against risks and related negative consequences and…
  2. The Approach Motivational System — Which tells you to do whatever makes you happy in that given moment.

Let’s put these systems into perspective.

Let’s say you’ve decided to buy a car. As you’re browsing around the dealership, a fast-talking salesperson directs you to a shiny new model and offers you a very “sweet deal.”


There you are, sitting at the driver’s seat, taking in the intoxicating scents of new leather. You feel a heightened sense of desire, excitement, and endless possibility.


At this point, your approach system (remember it?) nullifies your avoidance system: You happily sign the deal, and Voila! You’re the proud owner of a brand new car…that you probably don’t need.

Then, things start to go south.

That approach system or “post-purchase boost” that you experienced while at the dealership starts to die down, and the avoidance system kicks in.

Suddenly, you’re confronted with all the repressed consequences of your action.

That’s buyer remorse at its core and happens to the best of us.

Even when money isn’t a problem, you think of better ways to do with the money you just spent on the car, such as paying for your nine-month-old’s future university tuition.

Or worse,

You may start eyeing other models and dwelling on “what could’ve been.” Others most often begin to notice shortcomings in the quality or performance of the item they just bought.

What you are going through is what’s known as a period of choice-supportive bias or post-purchase rationalization.

You try to purposely convince yourself that you’ve made the right decision by amping up the positives and downplaying the negatives of your decision.

Get my drift?

These impulse buys, which most of us are susceptible to, are loaded with emotion, and we often come to regret them within no time.

But social science tells us there is a much better way to spend our money.

The Hedonic Treadmill

Buyer’s remorse is a product of the lofty expectations we have on things we want to own, even if we don’t need them.

It’s innately within us to buy something just because we convince ourselves that the act of acquisition alone will make us happy.

At the end of the day, we are stuck in what’s known as the “happiness treadmill. We get caught up in a perpetual cycle of quick fixes, each promising to pull us off the machine that temporarily alters our psychic state.

Marketing Tactic

Marketers today use marketing ploys like external stimuli to attract and lure customers into shopping their little hearts off.


They know more about buyers’ interests. So, they use;

  • Advertisements
  • Personalized marketing
  • Targeted marketing
  • In-store promotion
  • Sales promotion, etc., to stimulate your NEED for their offerings.

Strategies like product scarcity, discounts, targeted advertisements, and re-marketing are there to ensure you fulfill your desires by making a purchase.

Even without completing a purchase, you become easy pickings for remarketing tactics when you leave a website. Companies will use anything from social media ads, discount pop-ups, and other intrusive methods to make you complete your purchase.

Emails and advertisements such as “have you forgotten anything?” are strategies that brands employ to entice you to buy products you may later “regret.”

How to Prevent Buyer’s Remorse — Buy Experience, Not Objects

Cornell University psychologists Emily Rosenzweig and Tom Gilovich wrote a paper in 2011 that took an insightful look at how buyer’s remorse differs between two types of purchases:

  1. Material purchases — Include physical things such as cars, computers, and TVs. They found that buying such items is more likely to lead to buyer’s remorse as dozens, if not hundreds, of interchangeable alternatives. You are bound to experience the dreaded paradox of choice where an abundance of similar options causes psychological stress.

Do you agree?

  1. Experiential (practical) purchases — Include life experiences like concerts, vacations, and skydiving. You are far less likely to regret an experience. In fact, this is where Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) comes in, as it’s more common to regret missing out on an experience than it is to regret spending money on one.

It also has to do with how you remember a particular experience because you interpret experiences to be unique, not exchangeable.

Merely owning a nice car won’t make you happy. Half the time, you will find yourself having to use it consistently in order to justify the resources you put into it.

Be prepared to experience buyer’s remorse, aka psychological pain, when you invest a substantial amount of resources, time, and money on an impulse-purchase.

Buyer’s remorse is somewhat hard-wired into our brains, so it’s unlikely to escape it completely.

So, when temptation rears its ugly head, and you realize you’ve overspent and the psychological “high” of the purchase has worn off, remember the following guidelines that will make you an informed buyer:

1. Set Shopping boundaries — First, learn to make purchase decisions by separating your emotions and examining your needs and finances. Second, listen to the inner voice that helps you clarify when you want or need an item. Your purchases will become much more deliberate once you have and stick to your budget.

2. Equate price to work hours — Each time you’re tempted to buy something that isn’t within your planned budget, take a minute and calculate how many work hours it will take to recoup the cost of the item.

Case in point, if you earn $20 a day and decide to buy $500 worth of spur-of-the-moment beauty products, it will take you 25 days of work to cover that expense.

3. Wait for 72-hour — This may require a lot of willpower. But it works because what you’re doing effectively creates a buffer between the item and the purchase cost. Rather than jumping online or making a mad dash to the store, deliberate about a purchase for at least 72-hours.


If you still desire the item after this period has elapsed, you’re less likely to be disappointed with your purchase.

4. A little research doesn’t hurt — Learn to do some research on the item before purchasing it. Most importantly, stop your research when you’ve answered, “Whether or not the item will solve your immediate problem?”

The more information you have before a purchase, the less likely you will regret your decision later.


Researching, reading reviews and recommendations makes you a discerning buyer who knows what they’re getting themselves into.

Can Sellers Prevent Buyer’s Remorse?

Yes. While a customer ought to be mindful of buyer’s remorse, sellers must ensure that their customers feel at ease with their purchase.

Additionally, buyer remorse is a nightmare scenario for any seller. Therefore, devoting a significant amount of effort to building strong customer relationships can pay off in terms of a better brand reputation, customer loyalty, and long-term sales.

So, how can a seller prevent buyer’s remorse in their business? Consider the following key points;

  • Provide Value to the Customers by analyzing a buyer’s journey to collect as much data about their customers. When you can see through the customer’s eyes, you will focus on what benefits them. As a result, the customers will be less prone to have post-purchase regrets.
  • Have a better understanding of buyer’s remorse and the factors that lead to it. By so doing, you will provide relevant and transparent information even better; get rid of the ever-elusive, fine print from your offerings.
  • Businesses can portray themselves as trustworthy and gain user trust by investing consistently in educational content for their customers about their products/ services. Even if it means losing a transaction or two, every now and then, providing relevant content creates trust and repeat clients.
  • Have a flexible return policy.

Why? Because peace of mind is important to shoppers. They should be able to return said item and get their money back in full if the product does not fit their needs.

So, did I miss anything?

Is there a tip that resonated with you most in the above Buyer Remorse topic? Let me know in the comment section, including any other subject you would like me to address.



4th Ink lab

I am an SEO with experience in article writing for blogs and websites.