Before we get into what post purchase dissonance is, let’s first briefly explain what cognitive dissonance is.
The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs.
As humans, we have an inner need to ensure that our beliefs and behaviours are consistent.
If there are any discrepancies between the two, (AKA dissonance) then we naturally find this really distressing.
Our reaction is to, either consciously or subconsciously, change something to eliminate this dissonance and restore equilibrium in our beliefs once again.
So something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.
In regards to cognitive dissonance and marketing, any company that makes it easy for a consumer to narrow the gap between what they believe and what they do will tap into a viable market opportunity.
Also, this is something your competitors probably aren’t even thinking about.
So what is post purchase dissonance?
Post Purchase Dissonance happens when a customer’s buying decision doesn’t line up with their prior evaluation of a product or service.
So for example, you were convinced into buying a watch. You didn’t really want one but the sales man said something majorly persuasive such as “only classy men appreciate this kind of watch”.
You want to be seen as a classy man.
You might not even like the watch that much, but the desire to be perceived favourably overrides this and you buy it anyway.
Later, you get home and you realise your mistake. The watch was too expensive and it isn’t even that great to look at.
You are now experiencing post purchase dissonance. Why did you buy an expensive watch you didn’t like when you know you are meant to be saving?
You are regretful and whether consciously or subconsciously, the whole experience has left a bitter taste in your mouth.
This can be detrimental for brands because it generally means the end of the relationship they’ve worked to build through marketing.
This is a big deal when you consider that it costs anywhere from five to twenty five times more to acquire new customers and that a simple 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a profit increase of up to 95%. This is because each retained customer will spend on average about 67% more with a brand. Despite these staggering figures, 82% of brands are not currently putting any real focus on retention
So let’s think about a real life example of post purchase dissonance being used…
Ever heard of TOM’s? Of course you have. Especially is you were a teenager growing up in the early 2000’s.
Anyway, the marketing team at Tom’s have really considered the effect of post purchase dissonance, and have found a way to reduce this in their customers.
So when you buy a pair of TOM’s, the company makes a donation to a person in need. If you buy a pair of shoes, the company then donates a pair of shoes to a child in a poor country such as Haiti.
They have called this project ‘Buy One, Give One’.
So how does this reduce cognitive dissonance?
Despite everyone’s self-proclamations to be charitable and giving, the reality is, not many people actually do.
It’s not as if giving money isn’t easy or painless. You could easily set up a direct debit every month. There is virtually no cost to you except a small amount of money you would likely never notice anyway.
However, most people don’t make the effort to arrange this.
Listen, I’m not judging, just saying!
Anyway, the person who might not give money to charity regularly but class themselves as a giving person, might also be the same person who says yes to a ‘Buy One, Give One’.
This reduces the cognitive dissonance between ‘I am giving’, as TOM’s do the giving for you!
You can maintain your self – centred behaviour and still reap the reward of lowered cognitive dissonance.
Brands like these relieve you of lower feelings such as guilt, worry and even shame, without ever saying it out loud.
That’s why they have the potential to be so powerful.
So how can you help reduce post purchase dissonance for your own customers?
One way is to ensure you send order confirmation emails.
This sounds so simple but research has found order confirmation emails actually have the highest average open rates of any emails – a whopping 70%.
Why? This reduces any apprehension that their order wasn’t received and also acts as a sort of receipt of purchase so adds a sense of security in their minds.
If they don’t receive this, they may have doubts about your company and are far less likely to ever order again. Even if you deliver on all your other promises.
If you are interested in learning more about cognitive dissonance and post purchase dissonance, we are actually releasing an online course in the next few months and we go into a lot more detail about this subject on it.
Drop us a message on our pop up chat or fill in our contact form below to register your interest or even if you just have some more questions about this topic 🙂
Tel: +971 4 453 2710