By Anthony Dean, Founder
About 5 years ago, over a few cups of intelligence juice, myself and my mate Steve decided to buy a 1980s Airstream Camper, online and completely sight unseen. At the time it seemed like the bargain of the century and a shrewd investment we would tell stories of for years to come.
The next day, with somewhat clearer heads, we started to question our late-night investment… Is it a good investment? How much work will it take to get on the road? How much will it cost to run? How does one return an 80s Airstream if they don’t like it? These were just some of the questions that went unanswered as we read through the PayPal terms and conditions.
What myself and Steve were suffering from is called post-purchase regret. Yep, purchase regret is a real thing, and it happens to just about everyone.
So, what is purchase regret?
You know those moments when you buy something and then, a few days later, you wish you hadn’t? You might have even thought to yourself, “I really should have thought about this more…” Well, that’s purchase regret. And according to a study by the University of Minnesota, it’s one of the main reasons why shoppers stop being loyal to brands.
That doesn’t sound fair, does it? You do the research, you decide what to buy, you make the purchase, and then you blame the brand for your poor choice. Sure, when it’s put like that, the brand seems as innocent as a big-eyed kitten. However, the way we perceive products and decide if they are right for us is heavily influenced by how the brand is marketed and advertised.
The effect on brands
Purchase regret is a powerful force. It can undermine brand loyalty and erode customer trust. In some cases, if it happens on a large enough scale, it can even start a downward spiral that leads to the brand’s demise. Of course, purchase regret is not always a death sentence for a brand, but every company would rather put energy into growing market share than putting out fires. After all, it’s much easier to keep a customer than to win back a lost one.
Customers are looking for truth and authenticity when dealing with brands. They want to be assured that they are making the right decision when they press the ‘buy’ button. If they think they have been misled, the push-back will be fast, furious and targeted.
How to avoid making a purchase mistake
The first step is to be wary of anything that’s too good to be true. If an 80s Airstream seems like the bargain of the century, perhaps some questions need to be asked before proceeding to the checkout. Step number two is to take your time. Don’t make impulsive decisions – take some time to think about whether or not you really need the item or if you’ll regret buying it later. And finally, ask someone impartial who has used the product and get your questions answered, honestly.
This last step is something that we have been working on at LOOKB4 for the past couple of years. We have created an app that connects you directly with a user of the exact brand and model of product you are looking at. They are not a salesperson and aren’t rewarded if you make a purchase – so there’s no incentive at all for them to push you.
In fact, they are not associated with the brand at all, they are just a fellow shopper who is a little further along the purchase journey and might be able to help you with the info you need.
Wouldn’t if be great if we could all make better purchase decisions, ones that don’t involve late night drinks and 80s Airstream Campers…