A recent survey by British savings and investment company Standard Life found that the average Briton spends almost £3,000 (A$6400) a year on things they later regret buying.

The survey revealed that 64 per cent of people lamented wasting money on things they didn’t really want.

Takeaway food was the most guilt-laden purchase with 34 per cent of women and 28 per cent of men regretting the amount the spent on it.

More than a quarter of women felt they spent too much on clothes, while one in five men felt guilty about wasting money on alcohol.


The shoe might fit. But the remorse can be uncomfortable.

Speaking to Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper Julie Hutchison, of Standard Life blamed the waste on a culture of instant gratification.

Takeaway food and alcohol are relatively low-involvement and low-cost purchase decisions.

But what about more considered purchases? Do they also generate buyer’s remorse?

Well on The Minimalists, a blog devoted to “living a meaningful life with loss stuff”, Joshua Fields Milburn recounts the story of a friend who “emailed me to communicate the buyer’s remorse he was experiencing after purchasing an expensive watch.

“Even though he’s a successful entrepreneur who can afford to drop $10,000 on shiny wrist-ornamentation, he expressed pangs of post-purchase grief, sorrow, and regret,” Milburn writes.

Milburn suggested his friend not beat himself up over the purchase.

“You can’t change it: it’s a sunk cost. But you can change what you do going forward if you’re not getting value from the purchase,” Milburn said.

“If you get value from the watch—if it truly enhances your life—then why not keep it?”


A fancy watch can’t buy you more time.

As marketers we are also faced with solving buyer’s remorse, although from a different philosophical standpoint to The Minimalists.

We would prefer the buyer to feel comfortable with their purchase rather than just putting the decision behind them.

Some buyers may already try to counter buyer’s remorse with their own rationalisations for irrational purchases.

They might offset the cost of a motorbike with the time saved on commuting. Having nothing to wear for summer could justify an expensive pair of shoes.

And an expensive dress can seem a more reasonable purchase if one factors-in the cost per wear, including the times it’s lent it to a friend.


Will the thrill last when you get home?

However, advertising can do more than just assuage guilty feelings. When seen post-purchase, it can convert buyer’s remorse into buyer’s Stockholm syndrome.

An ad can remind the car buyer that their new vehicle is the most fuel-efficient in its class.

It can remind the golfer that their expensive putter was developed by their favourite golfer and reinvigorate the feelings of national pride that inspired the purchase.

And sometimes an ad can simply reassure the buyer that they are not alone. If it’s being advertised then surely someone’s buying it. And why shouldn’t that someone be them?

If you’d like to find out more about how advertising can help your customers feel good about your product after they’ve made the purchase, contact Harry Corsham on 03 8534 3333 or email welcometo@townsquare.agency


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