Offsetting painful loss with reassuring certainty

How UK supermarket Tesco provide a little extra information on sold out products to turn the dread of losing out into a reassuring future event we look forward to

As snacks go, I'd developed something of a soft spot for Tesco's soft and chewy banana chips of late, to the extent that I'd venture out with the primary aim of picking up a bag of the delicious treat.

However, on this painful occasion, while all other choices around it were in abundance, there was a distinct gap where those chips would otherwise be found.

'Out of stock', the label read.

With my favourite dried fruit product in scarce supply, my Loss Aversion was triggered... I wanted them now more than ever before. The texture, the smell, the big disappointment.

But then, reading into the label a little more, there was some secondary information...

What's that? Next order due in on Friday 12th March? Really??

What was an otherwise small additional piece of information provided a certain future date that greatly lifted my mood!

Naturally, I took mental note of the date and returned to the store on the Friday. And there they were; the beautiful soft banana chips I'd been yearning for over the past week.

The system had worked. I bought 3 bags.

Certainty is a tool for reassurance

Sometimes, scarcity can make us fear the worst. If something is sold out, will it ever return? Have we lost out forever? As consumers, we can't ever be sure. However, we also have tools to help surface key information that both reassures us now and encourages a return visit in future.

To do this at scale requires real logistical effort and a commitment to keeping such information up to date, so well done to you, Tesco.

You provide an excellent case study in how even a small amount of certainty can really help us overcome a painful sense of loss.

Where in your own products and services could there be discomfort caused by unpredictable availability?

How can you build in some reassuring certainty to counterbalance negative feelings of uncertainty?

Even small efforts made to create a sense of certainty will be appreciated by your customers. Some may even 'go bananas' for certainty, just like I did.

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