Cognitive Dissonance (Behavioural insights + Marketing)

Cognitive dissonance happens when our brain feels confused because we have two ideas or actions that don’t match. Imagine you really want a toy, but you also know you shouldn’t spend your money. This makes you feel uncomfortable. Marketers use this feeling to get people to buy things. They create a situation where you feel like you need to buy something to feel better and make the confusion go away.

WiserNotify CTA Image
Don’t Miss Out! Join Thousands Using WiserNotify to Increase Sales!

Boost Your Conversions with Social Proof Today

Understanding the Concept of Cognitive Dissonance in Marketing

In marketing, cognitive dissonance is like a feeling of confusion or discomfort people get when they believe one thing but do something different or when they hear something that doesn’t match what they already think.

Imagine you really believe that eating candy is bad for your teeth, but then you eat a lot of candy at a party. That uncomfortable feeling you get because your actions don’t match your belief is cognitive dissonance.

This happens in marketing, too. For example, if you buy a toy that you think will be super fun but it turns out to be boring, you might feel disappointed. Or, if you hear one advertisement saying a game is great but another saying it’s not, you might feel confused.

Marketers need to understand this so they can help people feel good about their choices and make decisions more easily.

The Role and Influence of Cognitive Dissonance in Consumer Behaviour

Cognitive dissonance affects how people behave as consumers. When people feel this discomfort, they try to ease it by changing their beliefs or finding information that agrees with what they already think.

Marketers can use this knowledge to their advantage. By understanding what causes cognitive dissonance, they can address it strategically.

For instance, if a customer has doubts about a product, marketers can offer extra information, positive reviews, or guarantees to clear up any concerns. This helps build trust and strengthens the positive feelings customers have toward the brand, encouraging loyalty.

Recognizing and addressing cognitive dissonance can significantly influence how consumers make decisions and stick with a brand.

Real-life Examples of Cognitive Dissonance in Marketing

1. Apple

Scenario: A customer buys an iPhone and later sees a new model released shortly after their purchase, causing feelings of regret.

Resolution: Apple addresses this by offering trade-in programs and highlighting the longevity and software updates of their products, ensuring customers feel valued and up-to-date with the latest technology.

2. Nike

Scenario: A consumer buys a pair of Nike running shoes but feels guilty about the cost compared to cheaper alternatives.

Resolution: Nike reinforces the value through marketing campaigns that highlight superior technology, performance benefits, and endorsements from top athletes, justifying the investment.

3. Tesls

Scenario: An environmentally conscious customer buys a Tesla but later worries about the high initial cost.

Resolution: Tesla provides extensive information about long-term savings on fuel and maintenance, environmental benefits, and government incentives, helping customers feel confident about their purchase.

4. Amazon Prime

Scenario: A customer subscribes to Amazon Prime but doubts if the annual fee is worth it.

Resolution: Amazon regularly promotes the various benefits of Prime membership, such as free shipping, exclusive deals, and access to streaming services, to reassure customers of the value they are receiving.

5. Coca-Cola

Scenario: A health-conscious consumer enjoys Coca-Cola but feels guilty about the sugar content.

Resolution: Coca-Cola addresses this by offering a range of lower-sugar and zero-sugar options and prominently marketing these alternatives to align with health-conscious values.

Strategies to Handle and Leverage Cognitive Dissonance

Provide Reassurance: Offer guarantees, warranties, and positive customer testimonials to reduce doubts.

Highlight Benefits: Highlight the unique features and long-term advantages of your product or service.

Address Concerns Directly: Provide clear and detailed information to tackle any potential issues head-on.

Encourage Positive Feedback: Use customer reviews and case studies to build trust and credibility.

Create Value: Ensure customers see the worth of their purchase through loyalty programs and exclusive offers.

Facilitate Comparisons: Help customers see how your product stands out against competitors.

Promote Flexibility: Offer easy return policies and trade-in programs to reduce buyer’s remorse.


Cognitive dissonance in consumer behavior is the uncomfortable feeling when a person’s beliefs and actions don’t match, often leading them to change their behavior or attitudes to reduce the discomfort.

An example of cognitive dissonance is when someone knows smoking is bad for their health but continues to smoke, feeling uneasy about the conflict between their knowledge and their actions.

In consumer behavior, “cognitive” refers to the mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses. It includes how consumers perceive, think, and make decisions about products and services.

Cognitive dissonance theory in customer satisfaction suggests that after making a purchase, customers may feel uneasy if the product doesn’t meet their expectations. To reduce this discomfort, they might change their perception of the product or seek reassurance to feel satisfied with their decision.