Inaction Inertia Effect

Do you still regret missing a Black Friday deal?

Inaction Inertia Effect: Missing an offer means you’re less likely to buy in the future

An experiment was conducted studying the buying behaviour of 63 participants (van Putten, M et al., 2013). Each participant was told to imagine a scenario where they needed to buy a new couch.

The participants were split into three groups. The first group was told a couch they wanted to buy was on sale with a 50% discount in a furniture shop window they has passed the previous day (short miss). The second group was given the same scenario but told they had seen the discounted couch in the furniture shop window two months ago (long miss). Both these groups were told when they returned on the day of the experiment that the sale had ended either the day before or two-months previously, for the short and long time difference groups respectively. Both groups were also told that despite missing the 50% sale, the couch was still on sale at a 20% discount. A third group was simply told to imagine this was the first time they visited the store and the couch they wanted to purchase had a 20% discount applied (no miss).

All three groups of participants were then asked to rate on a 10-point scale their likelihood of buying the couch with the 20% discount applied; from 1 (not at all likely) to 10 (extremely likely).

When there was no regret, that is the participants did not know they had missed a sale, their intent to purchase was significantly higher (M = 7.19) than those who missed the sale 2-months ago (M = 4.33) and those who missed the discount the previous day (M = 1.95).

Initial regret coupled with product devaluation might inhibit customers from buying a product immediately after it has been on sale, however, this counterfactual or ‘what-if’ thinking reduces over time. The results suggest that retailers should expect a significant drop in sales for products immediately after a sale ends, with demand slowly increasing again with time.

My widely acclaimed book, Product Gems: 117 Science Experiments Demonstrating How To Build Products People Love, is out now. Get your copy today and join over 1,000 other readers who have purchased the book this month.

Like what you read? Give David Greenwood a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.