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Post Purchase Dissonance: 7 Ways to Reduce It (+Examples)

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Customer satisfaction is paramount for success in the e-commerce world. Providing a great customer experience reduces post-purchase dissonance and ensures long-term sustainability. When customers are satisfied, they are more likely to become loyal, repeat purchasers, and advocates for your brand.

Addressing post-purchase dissonance proactively is crucial. Minimizing the gap between customer expectations and their actual experience can reduce the likelihood of dissatisfaction and regrets. This can be achieved through accurate product information, transparent communication, responsive customer support, and hassle-free return policies.

A satisfied customer is not only more likely to make future purchases but also to recommend your business to others. Positive word-of-mouth and referrals can significantly impact the growth and reputation of an e-commerce site. Conversely, ignoring post-purchase dissonance can lead to negative reviews, complaints, and damage to your brand’s image.

In this article, we’re going to be looking at post-purchase dissonance meaning and what you can do to reduce it. We’re also going to focus on the top strategies you can implement to minimize post-purchase dissonance leading to improved revenue and boosted profitability.

What Is Post-Purchase Dissonance?

When considering the post-purchase dissonance definition, the following thoughts come to mind:

Post-purchase cognitive dissonance, also known as buyer’s remorse, refers to the psychological discomfort or cognitive dissonance experienced by a consumer after making a purchase. The feeling of regret, doubt, or anxiety arises when a person questions whether they made the right decision or if they could have chosen a better alternative.

Post-purchase dissonance occurs when there is a discrepancy between the consumer’s expectations and the actual experience or perceived value of the purchased product or service. It can be triggered by various factors such as high cost, perceived lack of quality, conflicting information, limited availability of alternatives, or the fear of making a wrong decision.

The theory of cognitive dissonance, developed by psychologist Leon Festinger, helps to understand the underlying causes of post-purchase dissonance. According to this theory, individuals strive for consistency in their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. When there is a discrepancy or inconsistency between their expectations and the reality of the purchase, it creates a state of psychological tension or dissonance.

Consequently, post-purchase dissonance involves a significant feeling of consumers experience following a purchase, especially when the items do not meet their expectations. Understanding this phenomenon can help your e-commerce site create strategies that promote customer satisfaction and loyalty.

What Are the Causes of Post-Purchase Cognitive Dissonance?

Post-purchase behavior showing signs of dissonance can be caused by several factors that create a sense of cognitive conflict or psychological discomfort in individuals after making a purchase. These causes are rooted in the perceived discrepancy between the expectations and the actual experience or perceived value of the purchased product or service.

The following key factors highlight the specific causes leading to post-purchase dissonance:

#1: High involvement purchases

Post-purchase dissonance is more likely to occur with purchases that are considered important or have a high level of personal involvement. These could include significant financial investments like buying a house, a car, or expensive electronic devices. The more significant the purchase, the greater the potential for dissonance if the chosen option doesn’t meet expectations.

#2: Ambiguity or uncertainty

When consumers are uncertain about the outcome or the expected benefits of a purchase, they are more prone to experiencing post-purchase dissonance. Lack of clear information, conflicting reviews, or limited product knowledge can contribute to ambiguity, making it difficult for consumers to assess their choice accurately.

#3: Multiple attractive alternatives

Suppose there are numerous attractive alternatives available for a particular product or service. In that case, consumers may experience dissonance due to the fear of having missed out on a better option. The presence of attractive alternatives can create doubts and regrets about the chosen purchase.

#4: Cognitive overload

In today’s information-rich society, consumers are often exposed to a multitude of product options, features, and marketing messages. This abundance of information can lead to cognitive overload, making it challenging for consumers to process and evaluate all the available information effectively. When overwhelmed by choices and information, consumers may experience post-purchase dissonance as they question if they made the best decision.

#5: Conflicting information

Discrepancies or contradictions in the information consumers receive before and after the purchase can contribute to dissonance. For example, if a product is advertised as having certain features or benefits, but the consumer’s experience does not match those claims, it can lead to regret and dissatisfaction.

#6: Social influence

Social factors can also influence post-purchase dissonance. If consumers receive negative feedback or criticism from peers, friends, or family about their purchase, it can intensify their feelings of dissonance. The opinions and judgments of others may make individuals doubt their decision and question its appropriateness.

#7: Unrealistic expectations

When consumers have excessively high or unrealistic expectations about a product or service, they are more likely to experience dissonance if the reality falls short. Marketing messages, advertisements, and exaggerated claims can contribute to inflated expectations, setting the stage for post-purchase dissonance when those expectations are unmet.

#8: Personal factors

Individual differences and personal characteristics also play a role in post-purchase dissonance. Factors such as risk aversion, self-confidence, decision-making style, and previous experiences can influence the intensity of dissonance. Individuals with higher levels of risk aversion or lower self-confidence may be more susceptible to experiencing dissonance.

Mitigating post-purchase dissonance focuses on helping customers make informed decisions to avoid feeling disappointment following purchases. Above all, managing customer expectations and offering post-purchase support can greatly reduce post-purchase dissonance in consumer behavior.

Customer post purchase evaluation Shopify
Source: https://www.freepik.com/

Why Is Understanding Post-Purchase Cognitive Dissonance Important?

Understanding post-purchase cognitive dissonance is important for several reasons, both from the perspective of consumers and businesses. Here are the key reasons why understanding post-purchase cognitive dissonance is significant:

#1: Consumer Satisfaction

Post-purchase cognitive dissonance can have a significant impact on consumer satisfaction. When individuals experience dissonance after a purchase can lead to feelings of regret, doubt, and dissatisfaction. By understanding the causes and processes of post-purchase dissonance, consumers can better manage their expectations, cope with the discomfort, and take steps to resolve the dissonance. This understanding empowers consumers to make more informed choices, improving their purchase satisfaction.

#2: Purchase Decision-Making

Understanding post-purchase cognitive dissonance can enhance the decision-making process for consumers. By recognizing the potential for dissonance, individuals can critically evaluate their choices, consider the factors contributing to dissonance, and make more thoughtful and informed decisions. This understanding allows consumers to weigh the pros and cons of different options and select products or services that align better with their needs and expectations, reducing the likelihood of dissonance in the first place.

#3: Customer Loyalty and Retention

For businesses, understanding post-purchase cognitive dissonance is crucial for building customer loyalty and retention. By recognizing the causes of dissonance, companies can proactively address and minimize dissonance-inducing factors. This can involve providing accurate information, managing customer expectations, delivering quality products or services, and offering post-purchase support. By reducing post-purchase dissonance, businesses can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty and increase the likelihood of repeat purchases and positive word-of-mouth referrals.

#4: Brand Reputation

Post-purchase dissonance can impact a company’s brand reputation and perception in the market. If a significant number of customers experience dissonance after purchasing a product or service, it can lead to negative reviews, complaints, and a tarnished brand image. Understanding post-purchase dissonance helps businesses identify potential issues and take corrective measures to improve customer experiences, thus safeguarding their reputation and maintaining a positive brand image.

#5: Product Development and Improvement

Feedback from customers experiencing post-purchase dissonance can provide valuable insights for businesses. By understanding the specific reasons for dissonance, companies can identify areas for product improvement, service enhancements, or communication adjustments. This understanding allows businesses to refine their offerings to meet customer expectations better, reduce dissonance, and improve overall customer satisfaction.

#6: Marketing and Communication Strategies

Understanding post-purchase cognitive dissonance can also influence marketing and communication strategies. Marketers can develop messaging that addresses potential sources of dissonance, emphasizes the unique value proposition of the product or service, and reassures customers about their purchase decisions. By incorporating post-purchase dissonance insights into marketing efforts, businesses can build trust, credibility, and customer confidence, ultimately influencing purchase decisions in their favor.

Understanding post-purchase dissonance is crucial to managing this situation to help customers and e-commerce sites better manage expectations to avoid disappointment. Grasping the significance of dissonance is consumer of behavior.

5 Post-Purchase Dissonance Examples

The following five examples of post-purchase dissonance highlight this situation’s various forms:

#1: Buyer’s Remorse

Buyer’s remorse is a common form of post-purchase dissonance. It occurs when a consumer regrets their purchase decision and experiences a sense of dissatisfaction or guilt. For instance, someone may purchase an expensive luxury item and later feel regret for spending such a significant amount of money.

#2: Product Performance Discrepancy

Post-purchase dissonance can arise when there is a noticeable difference between the expected performance of a product and its actual performance. This can occur when a product fails to meet the consumer’s expectations or when its performance falls short of the claims made by the seller. For example, suppose a consumer purchases a smartphone that constantly freezes or has battery issues. In that case, they may experience dissonance due to the performance discrepancy.

#3: Social Influence

Post-purchase dissonance can also stem from social influences. Consumers may experience dissonance if their purchase decision contradicts the opinions or preferences of their social circle or reference groups. For instance, if a person buys a brand of clothing that their friends or influencers disapprove of, they may feel conflicted and experience dissonance due to the potential social repercussions.

#4: Information Overload

Post-purchase dissonance can occur when consumers are faced with an overwhelming amount of information during the decision-making process. Information overload can lead to confusion and uncertainty, making it difficult for consumers to evaluate their purchase decision. This dissonance may arise when purchasing complex products such as electronics or comparing multiple options with similar features.

#5: Post-Purchase Communication

Sometimes, post-purchase dissonance can be triggered by external factors such as negative reviews or feedback from others. If a consumer encounters negative information or experiences shared by others after purchasing, it can create doubts and dissonance. This can happen, for example, if a customer sees negative reviews online or hears negative feedback from friends or family members who have had a similar experience with the purchased product.

These examples highlight how post-purchase dissonance can stem from various sources. That is why understanding these examples can lead to effective strategies to address their root causes. This approach can help your e-commerce site find the best way to minimize post-purchase dissonance, boosting customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Why Should E-commerce Sites Reduce Post-Purchase Dissonance?

Reducing post-purchase dissonance offers several benefits for both consumers and businesses. Let’s explore the crucial advantages of minimizing post-purchase dissonance:

Benefits for Customers

#1: Increased Satisfaction

Consumers experience greater satisfaction with their purchases by addressing and minimizing post-purchase dissonance. When their expectations align with the actual product or service received, it enhances their overall shopping experience. It fosters a positive perception of the brand or business.

#2: Enhanced Confidence

Reducing post-purchase dissonance helps boost consumers’ confidence in their decision-making abilities. When their choices lead to positive outcomes, it reinforces their trust in their judgment, making them more self-assured in future purchase decisions.

#3: Improved Well-Being

Post-purchase dissonance can create negative emotions such as regret, doubt, and anxiety. By reducing dissonance, consumers experience a sense of relief and improved well-being. They can enjoy their purchases without the burden of second-guessing their decisions.

#4: Time and Effort Savings

Minimizing post-purchase dissonance saves consumers time and effort that would otherwise be spent on resolving issues or seeking alternatives. When the initial purchase meets expectations, consumers can focus their time and energy on other important aspects of their lives.

#5: Trust and Loyalty

When e-commerce sites actively work to minimize post-purchase dissonance, it enhances trust and fosters customer loyalty. Satisfied customers are more likely to develop a sense of loyalty towards a brand or business, leading to repeat purchases, positive reviews, and recommendations to others.

Post purchase shopify customers
Source: https://www.freepik.com/

Benefits for E-commerce Sites

#1: Customer Retention

By reducing post-purchase dissonance, businesses can improve customer retention rates. Satisfied customers are more likely to return for future purchases, reducing customer churn and increasing customer lifetime value.

#2: Positive Word-of-Mouth

Minimizing post-purchase dissonance can generate positive word-of-mouth referrals. Satisfied customers are more inclined to share their positive experiences with others, leading to increased brand visibility, new customer acquisition, and organic growth for the business.

#3: Brand Reputation

Addressing post-purchase dissonance contributes to building a positive brand reputation. When customers consistently have positive post-purchase experiences, it strengthens the brand’s perception as trustworthy, reliable, and customer-centric.

#4: Competitive Advantage

A focus on minimizing post-purchase dissonance can give businesses a competitive edge. Providing exceptional customer support, hassle-free return policies, and effective communication distinguishes the business from competitors and positions it as a preferred choice among consumers.

#5: Increased Sales and Revenue

When customers experience minimal post-purchase dissonance, it positively impacts sales and revenue. Satisfied customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and potentially increase their order value. This translates into higher sales volume and improved financial performance for the business.

#6: Customer Insights

Reducing post-purchase dissonance helps businesses gather valuable customer insights. By understanding the factors contributing to dissonance, businesses can gain deeper knowledge about customer preferences, pain points, and expectations. This information can inform product development, marketing strategies, and overall business decision-making.

Above all, prioritizing customer satisfaction and taking proactive measures can minimize dissonance leading to long-term relationships, driving growth, and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage in the market.

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7 Ways to Reduce Post-Purchase Dissonance

Reducing post-purchase dissonance is crucial for improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. Here are seven effective ways that your e-commerce site can employ to minimize post-purchase dissonance:

#1: Accurate Product Information

Provide clear, accurate, and detailed information about products or services on your e-commerce platform. Ensure product descriptions, specifications, images, and videos accurately represent the product. Transparent and comprehensive information helps customers set realistic expectations, reducing the likelihood of dissonance between their expectations and the actual purchase.

Accurate Product Information
Source: https://www.shopify.com/blog/8211159-9-simple-ways-to-write-product-descriptions-that-sell

Why do we love this strategy to reduce post-purchase dissonance?

Providing accurate information allows you to communicate your brand’s value proposition without building up false expectations. Allowing your customers to see what your products can and can’t do reduces post-purchase dissonance, particularly when customers can see the product in action.

#2: Realistic Expectation Setting

Set realistic expectations through marketing and communication efforts. Avoid exaggerations or misleading claims that may create inflated expectations. Instead, focus on highlighting the genuine benefits, features, and limitations of the product or service. Transparent and honest communication builds trust and helps manage customer expectations effectively.

Realistic Expectation Setting
Source: https://www.shopify.com/blog/8211159-9-simple-ways-to-write-product-descriptions-that-sell

Why do we love this strategy to reduce post-purchase dissonance?

Showing customers what to expect from your products is crucial in whittling away post-purchase dissonance behavior. Giving your customers reasonable results to expect eliminates false hopes while giving them an opportunity to visualize the cost-benefit proposition of your products. The last thing you want is to hype your brand to the point of unrealistic results and expectations.

#3: Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Encourage customers to leave reviews and testimonials after their purchase. Displaying authentic customer feedback on your e-commerce site allows potential buyers to gauge the experiences of others. Positive reviews can reinforce the confidence of prospective customers, while negative reviews can provide valuable insights for improvement. It also demonstrates transparency and accountability, reducing post-purchase dissonance.

Customer Reviews and Testimonials
Source: https://monkeylearn.com/blog/customer-reviews-examples/

Why do we love this strategy to reduce post-purchase dissonance?

Customer testimonials, especially from real people (avoid fake-looking testimonials as much as possible), give your customers a reasonable goal to aim for. While you should strive to avoid negative feedback as much as possible, it’s also important to include not-so-positive reviews. In doing so, your customers can see that your products are not gimmicks. Instead, customers will be able to see that your products produce genuine results.

#4: Responsive Customer Support

Establish a responsive and helpful customer support system. Provide multiple channels for customers to reach out, such as live chat, post-purchase email, or phone support. Promptly address customer inquiries, concerns, and complaints, providing effective solutions and assistance. A responsive customer support team can help resolve issues and alleviate post-purchase dissonance, creating a positive customer experience.

Responsive Customer Support
Source: https://www.vendhq.com/blog/examples-good-customer-service-retail/

Why do we love this strategy to reduce post-purchase dissonance?

Being there to handle post-purchase communication is critical. This situation is especially true when customers have issues with products. Having someone to provide support is the most effective way to reduce post-purchase dissonance behaviors such as anxiety or regret, as customers feel they can get support whenever needed.

#5: Hassle-Free Return Policy

Implement a customer-friendly return policy that is easy to understand and navigate. A hassle-free return process reassures customers that they have the option to return or exchange a product if it doesn’t meet their expectations. Clearly communicate the return policy on your e-commerce site and make the process seamless, ensuring customers feel supported even if they need to make a return.

Hassle-Free Return Policy
Source: https://goshippo.com/blog/return-policy-examples-real-businesses/

Why do we love this strategy to reduce post-purchase dissonance?

If customers need to return an item, allowing them to do so easily gives your brand a second chance. In other words, you may be losing out on a sale, but you’ll gain customers down the road. Don’t be afraid of returns. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to claim future sales. Perhaps adding an incentive such as a small discount can go a long way to ensure you get those customers back at some point.

#6: Post-Purchase Communication

Engage in post-purchase communication to show care and support for customers. Follow up with customers after their purchase to inquire about their experience, offer additional assistance, or provide helpful tips and resources related to their purchase. Proactive communication demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and helps address any potential dissonance promptly.

Post-Purchase Communication
Source: https://www.shopify.com/retail/examples-of-great-post-purchase-communications-you-should-steal

Why do we love this strategy to reduce post-purchase dissonance?

Communication is a highly important part of all successful brands. Communication reduces post-purchase dissonance since it allows you to help put customers at ease. Effective communication helps your customers feel like your brand is always there. Sometimes, all it takes is a friendly message to put the jitters at ease.

#7: Loyalty Programs and Incentives

Implement loyalty programs or offer incentives for repeat purchases. Rewarding customers for their loyalty can help strengthen the bond between the customer and the brand, increasing their satisfaction and reducing dissonance. Loyalty programs can include discounts, exclusive offers, freebies, or personalized recommendations based on purchase history.

Loyalty Programs and Incentives
Source: https://www.openloyalty.io/insider/restaurant-loyalty-programs-10-successful-examples-2022

Why do we love this strategy to reduce post-purchase dissonance?

Incentives and loyalty programs give customers something to look forward to. For instance, a 10% discount on the next purchase gives customers a sense of continuity. It’s a psychological device that enables customers to feel your brand cares about them. At the end of the day, this type of approach reduces post-purchase dissonance by allowing customers to become valued members of an exclusive community.

It’s crucial to note that each customer is unique. So, you may need to implement various strategies to address your customers’ needs and concerns. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. That is why taking the time to understand why post-purchase dissonance occurs can lead to effective ways of mitigating it.

Conclusion for Post Purchase Dissonance

Post-purchase dissonance is a complex psychological phenomenon, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to address it. Instead, a proactive approach incorporating multiple strategies is necessary to tackle its various causes effectively.

To reduce post-purchase dissonance, businesses should address all aspects contributing to customer dissatisfaction. This includes providing accurate product information, managing customer expectations, offering responsive customer support, implementing hassle-free return policies, and encouraging positive post-purchase communication.

By adopting a comprehensive approach, businesses can minimize the gap between customer expectations and their experience, leading to increased customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Each strategy plays a vital role in addressing specific causes of dissonance, whether product performance discrepancies, social influences, information overload, or regret.

Recognizing that post-purchase dissonance is multifaceted and requires a holistic approach allows businesses to build stronger customer relationships, enhance brand reputation, and ultimately foster long-term success in the competitive e-commerce landscape.

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