Decision contentment or buyer’s remorse?

26th May 2020 |   Roger Brooksbank and Sam Fullerton

Identifying a B2B buyer’s post-decision “cognitive states” – consonance and dissonance – and how to accommodate them.


Conventional wisdom suggests that post-purchase cognitive dissonance (PPCD) is the sole “cognitive state” toward which a salesperson needs to be attuned for the purposes of taking some form of mutually beneficial action. However, recent research indicates that three other states relating to the aftermath of a B2B buyer’s decision also merit attention.

Cognitive dissonance is experienced when a person suffers from the unpleasant and conflicted state of being “in two minds about something” – in other words, concurrently holding two or more contradictory cognitions (ie, perceptions, attitudes or beliefs). The concept became popularised among marketers following the publication of Leon Festinger’s seminal work, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957), in which the perspective was put forward that an individual beset by cognitive dissonance will be motivated to resolve the dilemma by altering their cognitions in an effort to relieve the attendant discomfort.

Indeed, an interest in determining how best to accommodate Festinger’s theory, especially within a B2C post-purchase context, quickly became universally embraced by marketers, giving rise to today’s widespread use of terminology such as “PPCD” and “buyer’s remorse”.

Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Waikato | + posts

Roger Brooksbank BA, MBA, Dip M, PhD is currently Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, with previous experience as a sales executive, sales manager, sales and marketing manager, marketing director and business owner. His research interests lie in all aspects of strategic marketing and business competitiveness and he is the author or co-author of over 200 publications in these areas, including six books. He has also acted as an independent marketing consultant, seminar leader, conference speaker or sales trainer to more than 90 clients throughout Europe and Australasia in both the private and public sectors. In his role as a professional educator, Roger has taught a variety of marketing courses at all levels and he is a recipient of his School’s Outstanding Teaching Award.

Emeritus Professor of Marketing at Eastern Michigan University (USA)

Sam Fullerton is an emeritus professor of marketing at Eastern Michigan University (USA) and an extraordinary professor at North West University (South Africa). He has consulted for major Fortune 500 companies in the United States, published over 150 articles, and authored books on sports marketing, marketing research, and professional selling.