Impulse Buying Behaviour and Post-Purchase Regret: An Investigation on Emotion-Sensing Technology as Means to Diminish the Regret Arising from Retail Therapy in Sad Consumers

Elisa Laderchi & Fabiola Battistini

Student thesis: Master thesis


Looking at the way consumers behave has long been of primary importance to marketers in order to anticipate customers’ needs and respond to them in the most effective way. Yet, understanding consumer behaviour is neither straightforward nor predictable. Among several factors, sadness plays a distinctive role in influencing people’s actions by diminishing their cognitive abilities and, in turn, increasing their impulsiveness throughout the decision-making process. Sad consumers are indeed encouraged to resort to “therapeutical” shopping with the aim of rapidly improving their negative emotional state. However, retail therapy and impulsive purchases have only a short-term positive emotional impact – in the long-term, the irrationality that characterises the consumption may lead consumers to regret their purchase. Post-purchase regret (PPR) represents an ever-challenging aspect, which marketers have to deal with. Among others, it implicates consumers’ dissatisfaction towards products, resulting negative word of mouth, and undesired costs for companies. Since extant solutions to this problem remain scarce and mostly inadequate, the current thesis project has tried to overcome the gap by introducing the use of emotion-sensing technology (EST) as a means to relieve the burden of PPR on consumers and brands. Grounded on a dual-process system model of consumer behaviour, the study embraced an experimental approach in which 23 participants have been induced a baseline of sadness and engaged in a retail therapy activity. By making people aware of their negative emotional state, thereby increasing their cognitive abilities, the presented findings add to the extant literature that EST has the potential to diminish the chance to experience PPR. Since these technologies would significantly enhance the decision-making process of sad consumers during their impulsive consumption, the study recommends marketers to incite the industry advancement of EST application within the daily shopping activities.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages129
SupervisorsRob Gleasure