Post-Purchase Evaluation: Step Five in Making a Purchase

Post-Purchase Evaluation: Step Five in Making a Purchase

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the final step of the purchase process! Whew, it has been quite the journey. Now, to continue on from the cliffhanger the last post ended on. If you don’t remember, or didn’t read it (hey, I won’t judge), the last post ended with the following sentence:

Oh, and if you’re curious, my seven-year-old self went with Reese’s Sticks.

Alright, so it isn’t as much of a cliffhanger as I thought. But don’t you want to know what happens next?

Well, the post-purchase evaluation is exactly what it sounds like. You’re evaluating the purchase you made. The point of the evaluation is to determine whether the purchase you made fills your original needs, you know, the whole reason we started this crazy journey in the first place.

There are only two possible outcomes of this evaluation; either you’re satisfied with your purchase or you’re not. Interestingly enough, whether you feel satisfied or dissatisfied with your decision, it will affect any future purchase decisions.

If you were satisfied with your purchase, you will be more likely to make a repeat purchase or buy a different product from that brand. If you were dissatisfied, you guessed it, you will be less likely to make a repeat purchase or buy anything else from that brand. Either way, your stored memory, which we discussed in the information search, is broadened.

It is common to experience cognitive dissonance, which is basically questioning whether or not you made the right decision, during your post-purchase evaluation.


In low involvement decisions, such as purchasing a candy bar, cognitive dissonance is fleeting, if experienced at all. It is much more common in high involvement decisions, like purchasing a vehicle.

Just as you are more likely to experience cognitive dissonance with high involvement purchases, your feeling of either satisfaction or dissatisfaction is often heightened the more money you spend.

Think about it, if you aren’t satisfied with your purchase of a candy bar, the feeling is fleeting because in the end, you didn’t spend more than $2 on it. If you are dissatisfied with a more expensive purchase, say a laptop, the feeling lingers, further impacting future information searches.

It should also be noted that it is easier to be disappointed with a more expensive item, and vice versa. Often, you will find things wrong with your purchase solely because it cost so much. With your laptop, you may be thinking, “This computer runs pretty fast, but not $2,000 fast.” With less expensive purchases, you are more likely to be pleasantly surprised.  

Isn’t it crazy that so much effort goes into each and every purchase? Think about it the next time you stop to purchase something, whether it’s gas for your vehicle or a new pair of jeans. You could even turn it into a game, attempting to identify each step of the process in your next purchase. It may be a nerdy game, but it could be fun!

As the old adage goes, knowledge is power. Now that you understand how you make purchase decisions – use it to your advantage.

Katie Breight
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