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How to Eliminate Buyer’s Guilt

September 12, 2016

Discover how to eliminate buyer’s guilt when selling a product online and why it’s so important that you tackle this consumer psychology problem head on.

We all know how important consumer psychology is to the success of a business. When a store can tap into a consumer’s mind-set, seemingly on a one to one basis, sales will be effortless. A lot of brands invest heavily in learning about the consumer’s psychology for engagement, sales and brand awareness but few consider the thoughts of the customer once a product is purchased. The right after sales care is essential for generating customer loyalty and repeat custom. A repeat customer will bring a lot more profit to a business than a new one, as the cost per acquisition is much less. If you can eliminate buyer’s guilt, not just at the point of purchase, following the sale, you can almost guarantee a customer for life.

eliminate buyer’s guilt

What is Buyer’s Guilt?

As a consumer you will have felt buyer’s guilt whether you’ve been aware of it or not. Very few people have escaped life without feeling this confusing emotion when purchasing a luxury product. Buyer’s guilt is the pang of selfishness you feel when you splash out on a new pair of shoes, (whether you deserve the treat or not), it’s the shopping hangover after you’ve become carried away in the moment and spent too much, it’s the regret of buying a product for twice the price because you didn’t have time to shop around and it’s the sinking feeling that once again, you’ve been a little too frivolous with your pay packet and will need to tighten your belt for the rest of the month.

It’s the emotion a customer feels when they purchase a luxury item that’s not entirely needed, a product that they could live without, a splurge, a treat, a luxury. This could be any product from a new dress to a luxury face cream, an organic salsa to a new kitchen gadget. If it’s purchased with disposable income then it has the potential to invoke buyer’s guilt.

Why You Should Eliminate Buyer’s Guilt

You may believe that buyer’s guilt isn’t important. It doesn’t have a substantial affect on sales or buyer engagement. In fact, if you understand the importance of consumer psychology and your customer’s emotional responses as they shop, you’ll also appreciate how buyer’s guilt can have an impact on the lifetime value of a customer.

A customer who experiences buyer’s guilt will buy the product, but they are unlikely to return unless they find they have money to burn? Why? Our brains pair actions with emotions, and retain certain titbits of information in order to process memories effectively. A person with buyer’s guilt doesn’t remember the exact reason they felt deflated, sad or simply bad when shopping on your website but they do remember the emotions and they are also aware that they don’t want to repeat that cycle. They soon associate your store with negative connotations, which leads them to seeking out a competitor in a bid to avoid depression. It’s natural self-preservation.

How to Eliminate Buyer’s Guilt

Now you know what buyer’s guilt is and why it’s so important, you need to know how to eliminate it. In an article for Forbes*, I gave some tips but I will go into a little more detail here.

Step 1: Make the Product Essential

A luxury product could invoke feelings of Buyer’s guilt but not if the product becomes useful. For example, a luxury skin cream is not an essential product until you describe it as a moisturiser that’s essential for maintaining the elasticity of your skin as you age, a cream that delivers the nutrients your skin needs to stay healthy.

Step 2:  Compliment but Don’t Patronise

Another tactic is to compliment the buyer, they’ve found a great deal, they have impeccable taste, and this should be celebrated. This can create feelings of accomplishment that will drown out any negative feelings of buyer’s guilt.

Step 3: Avoid Certain Words

Few people have the budget to splash out or splurge. Indeed, as soon as you mention these words, an instinctive battle starts in their minds where they ask if they can really afford it; just as a dieter would when reaching for the second slice of cake. (In this instance avoid words such as indulgent if you’d like them to purchase another slice!) You can ensure they know the product is of the highest quality without using words such as splurge, splash out, or even, (it has been known) expensive.

Step 4: Highlight Benefits over Features

The product features are those that make the it work. In other words, the buttons, the slick packaging and the operating system. The benefits are how it will impact on a person’s life and to eliminate buyer’s guilt you do need to emphasis these. For example, the latest iPhone includes plenty of features. However, it is still an expensive purchase, often seen as frivolous if the older iPhones works fine. Focus on the benefits: It will save you time, and eventually money. It will make life easier and remove frustration. It will allow for better communication. In short, your life will be better through this purchase.

Step 5: Add a Time Limit

If you make a product exclusive, and add a time limit, all of a sudden shoppers don’t feel too guilty about the purchase. This is because they’ve snapped up a once in a lifetime offer and they’ve embraced an opportunity.

Step 6: Show How the Product Saves Money

Every product can save a buyer money in the long run. So by highlighting this (in a subtle way) you can remove buyer’s guilt.

For instance, a diamond bracelet becomes:

“Your go-to accessory for every evening out, as the diamond bracelet alters appearance depending on the outfit. It pairs perfectly with any outfit, removing the need for buying multiple accessories for each and every occasion.”

In summary, throughout the whole shopping experience online, your customers should enjoy a positive experience that leaves them feeling happy and satisfied. It’s this emotion that will bring a customer back again and again.

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