Beat the Black Friday blues: How to reduce post-purchase dissonance

Topic: Marketing

Big sales and exclusive promotions may attract customers to your brand, but your next hurdle is overcoming post-purchase dissonance. Those feelings of uncertainty, regret and guilt that may come after hitting ‘buy now’ have plagued us all in the past. For businesses, this can impact your bottom line.

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to reduce post-purchase dissonance and turn remorse into rewards.

What is post-purchase dissonance and what causes it?

It’s important to understand what this term means and the reasons for it happening. So firstly, let’s quickly discuss a definition and some main causes. If you’re confident you already know, skip ahead here.

Post-purchase dissonance is a consumer behaviour where customer purchases an item and later experiences dissatisfaction and regret. This may lead to the customer returning the product and not only seeking a refund but also expressing their dissatisfaction via reviews and word of mouth.

Is post-purchase dissonance the same as buyer’s remorse?

Post-purchase dissonance vs buyer’s remorse – what’s the difference, if any? Where post-purchase dissonance occurs when a product/service doesn’t meet the customer’s expectations, buyer’s remorse is when the customer regrets their decision to purchase said product/service. 

Some of the most common causes of dissonance include:

  • An impulsive purchase which is then regretted
  • Finding the same product elsewhere at a lower price
  • Reading a review that makes them doubt/reconsider their purchase
  • Product not meeting expectations
  • Doubts over the trustworthiness of the business

How to reduce post-purchase dissonance

1. Know why the dissonance is happening

High on the agenda of your post-purchase dissonance strategy is to identify why this behaviour is happening. Speak to your customer service team. What are the main reasons for customer returns and refunds? Are there any complaints that stick out? 

2. Provide detailed information

The more information you provide your customers, the better informed they are when they come to purchase your goods. This will not only help them make better purchasing decisions (as opposed to impulse purchases), but it will also help you manage customer expectations. 

Your product descriptions are a great place to start. This might include:

  • Precise product measurements
  • Materials
  • Colour
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Augmented reality product visualisations
  • Ability for customer to virtually ‘try on’ your products

3. Keep customers in the loop

Order confirmation, dispatch updates and potential delays – these are just a few of the ways you should be keeping customers informed. Rather than keeping your customers in the dark, these transactional emails help reassure them that they made the right brand choice in the first place. 

Go one step further and optimise these emails so they’re more than just a simple “Thanks for your order!” or “We’ve sent it!” message. For example, Etsy’s order confirmation and dispatch updates are interactive.

This communication includes all of the necessary information, from what was ordered and the delivery address to the expected delivery times, which helps ease potential dissonance and reduces the burden on customer support (source)

4. Ensure your returns policy is clear

When you purchase things online, there’s always the risk that it doesn’t quite fit, the colour’s not right or perhaps it doesn’t look anything like the pictures. And even if you ensure your product information is as detailed and accurate as possible, there’s always a chance that customers will change their minds and want to return their purchase(s).

Make sure that your returns policy is reasonable, simple and clear. Don’t make your customers jump through hoops to return their orders – this can impact your reputation.

Just because a customer returns an item doesn’t mean they’re unhappy. In fact, you can use this opportunity to leave a final positive impression on your customer. According to a UPS study, 57% of Aussies will shop more with a retailer that offers hassle-free returns policies. 

5. Go beyond basic transactional emails

In addition to sending transactional emails, why not also build nurturing workflows? This type of email, which is normally subscriber-only, is designed to offer additional customer value. Some examples include:

  • How to look after the item
  • Tips to get more out of the item
  • How other people who have purchased the same item are using it/their experiences

This is the perfect place to promote your best blog content, eBooks and customer stories. You can even personalise campaigns based on the individual customer and their buying/browsing habits.

6. Customise thank you pages to individual customers

Your thank you page is the first thing your customers see post-purchase and unlike emails, nearly every customer will see this page. So, what you put on your thank you page matters. Consider what you could add alongside your basic information (order summary, billing details, delivery address) to start reducing post-purchase dissonance.

For example:

  • FAQs about the product purchased
  • How-to articles
  • Welcome video
  • Customer reviews

If you want to take your thank you page to the next level, you could even personalise it to the individual customer. For instance, add content tailored to the product purchased. Let’s say you’re a retailer that specialises in leather goods. If a customer buys a bag, you could include:

  • Leather care tips – help customers maximise how long their bag lasts
  • “What’s in my bag” video series – recorded by customers, influencers and even your employees with the aim of showing how much the bag can fit
  • How to style the bag – help customers get more wear out of the bag

If a customer buys a pair of leather shoes, the “What’s in my bag” videos won’t be relevant but you can still include the leather care tips and the “How to style” series. 

7. Design a memorable unboxing experience

The unboxing experience is important in e-commerce and will help to reduce dissonance. This is the first time your customers will physically interact with your products so unboxing is your best shot at delivering a memorable first impression. 

Phone manufacturers are arguably one of the best examples of great unboxing experiences. Apple, for example, has set the benchmark. With its sleek white packaging, contrasting black logo and high resolution product imagery, customers experience the product in 2D before opening the package, which effectively builds anticipation.

Your unboxing strategy will obviously depend on your brand image and what you sell. You don’t have to go as far as Apple, but even something as simple as adding a low-cost item as a free gift can go a long way. For instance, if you sell candles, add in some tea lights that are a similar or complimentary scent to what the customer ordered.

Or, how about a handwritten thank you note? 

Ready to make this Black Friday your best performing yet?

For businesses and consumers alike, Black Friday is one of the biggest and most important shopping holidays of the year. While consumers prepare to hunt for bargains and/or splurge, businesses get ready to ensure their products and promotions are the ones that consumers notice first. 

But of course, it’s not just about getting consumers over the purchase line. It’s about getting them through that 30-day return period and helping ease their worries so post-purchase dissonance is kept at bay. 

In our eBOOK, you can discover our research around digital shopping habits, customers’ expectations from businesses and their money spending habits during this period.

Download your copy below.

Author Avatar
Prachi Bametha

Marketing Coordinator, Esendex Australia