When people make decisions, they predict what the outcome will be like if they decide to take action
They also consider how they would feel about the specific outcome. If people predict that the specific outcome would be unsatisfactory, they feel a sense of regret – the regret that they will feel if they do make the decision to take action and the outcome turns out to be unsatisfying. This prediction of experiencing regret is called anticipated regret.
The aversion to regret is so strong that people are even willing to give up material gains (eg. money or other incentives) in order to prevent future regret. It causes people to choose safe and familiar options and avoid risk. On the edge of making a purchase decision it can be crucial for visitors to keep feeling ‘safe’ after purchasing the product. By reducing targets’ anticipated regret about buying a product (or creating anticipated regret about not buying a product), marketeers can increase their willingness to buy.
How to apply?
- Reduce visitors’ anticipated regret by offering solutions such as price guarantees or satisfaction guarantees. Anticipate regret is a common reason for people not to buy something (for instance, thinking that if they buy something today, they might feel regret when they see the same item being sold somewhere else for a lower price).
- Restrict the amount of options that visitors have to choose from. With many options come increased anticipated regret, as the chance of picking the “best” product gets slimmer and the chance of missing out on a better product increases.
- For products with a high rate of innovation – focus on the hedonic benefit – stressing that it will not be outdated anytime soon.