7 Ways of leveraging short-term experiences for long-term impact : Duration Neglect

Prathamesh Krisang

Duration neglect is a psychological phenomenon that causes people to pay more attention to the intensity of their experience than its duration. In marketing, this means that people are more likely to remember how they felt during an interaction with a brand rather than how long it lasted. In this article, we’ll explore some unique ways to leverage duration neglect in marketing, sales, branding, design, and advertising to make your brand memorable.

1. The Power of Immersion

Immersive experiences are often intense, and thus are more likely to be remembered even if they were relatively brief. This means that by creating immersive experiences, marketers and advertisers can leverage duration neglect to create lasting impressions on consumers.

When designing immersive experiences, creators should aim to engage as many senses as possible, as this increases the intensity of the experience and makes it more memorable. By using sound, lighting, temperature, texture, and even taste and smell, creators can immerse consumers in their brand and create powerful emotional connections.

Example: In 2019, Adidas created a pop-up store in London called the “Infinite Playgrounds” where customers were immersed in a multi-sensory experience. The store was designed to mimic a playground, complete with different rooms and zones that engaged different senses. For example, one room featured a ball pit and foam walls for customers to jump into, while another room featured a live DJ and a bar serving smoothies made with Adidas-branded fruit. The experience was designed to be fun and interactive, encouraging customers to stay and explore for longer periods of time.

2. Use Surprise to Create Emotional Peaks

Another way to leverage duration neglect is by using surprise to create emotional peaks. People are more likely to remember events that surprise them, as surprises trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in memory formation.

Example: Airbnb’s “One Less Stranger” campaign encouraged hosts to perform a random act of kindness for their guests, such as offering them a meal or a tour of the city. This gesture left a lasting impression on guests.

3. Use Nostalgia

Nostalgia can create a memorable experience that leaves a lasting impression, even if the overall experience is brief. Marketers can leverage duration neglect by incorporating nostalgic elements into their marketing strategies.

Example: McDonald’s “Happy Meal” campaign used classic toys and characters from the 80s and 90s, such as the “Tamagotchi” and “Power Rangers,” to create a sense of nostalgia and appeal to the younger generation of parents who grew up with these toys. The nostalgia factor of the campaign created an emotional connection with parents and children alike, making the experience of going to McDonald’s and getting a Happy Meal more memorable.

4. Create a Memorable Opening

By creating a memorable opening in a story, marketers can capture the audience’s attention and leave a lasting impression. This can be achieved by using a compelling hook or by starting the story in an unusual way.

Example: The “Got Milk?” campaign’s TV commercials often began with a relatable scenario that featured a person who needed milk but didn’t have any. This relatable scenario immediately captured viewers’ attention and set the stage for the humorous twist that followed. For example, in one commercial, a man is eating a cookie and realizes he has no milk to wash it down. He then tries to answer a radio trivia question about Aaron Burr but is unable to speak clearly due to a dry mouth caused by not having milk. This humorous twist left a lasting impression on viewers and made the “Got Milk?” campaign a memorable and successful marketing campaign.

5. Break the Experience into Smaller Moments

Another way to leverage duration neglect is to break the experience into smaller moments. By doing this, you can create more peaks of positive emotion and minimize any negative moments. For example, a restaurant might offer a complimentary amuse-bouche to start the meal, followed by a series of small courses, each with a unique flavor and presentation. This way, the customer’s experience is broken into smaller, more memorable moments, and any negative moments are less likely to be remembered.

Example: Anthropologie, a clothing and home decor retailer, is known for its visually stunning and eclectic store displays. They break up the shopping experience into smaller moments by creating mini “shops” within the larger store. For example, they might create a section that looks like a vintage library or a bohemian bazaar. Each section has its own distinct aesthetic, making it feel like a separate shopping experience within the larger store. By doing this, Anthropologie is able to create more memorable shopping moments and keep customers engaged for longer.

6. The Power of Mystery

Mystery is a powerful tool for creating engagement and emotional connections with customers. Creators can leverage duration neglect by creating mystery and intrigue around their products or experiences.

Example: A bookstore could create a “blind date with a book” promotion, where regular customers purchase a book wrapped in brown paper with their name on it, without knowing the title or author (each book decided keeping in mind their previous purchases, the genre or author they like most) . By creating mystery, the bookstore can create an engaging experience which will make a lasting impression.

7. Create a unique unboxing experience

People tend to remember the experience of unboxing a product, especially if it is unique and memorable. Unboxing experiences can create excitement and anticipation around a product, and can make the product feel more valuable and special to the customer.

Example: The beauty brand Glossier has gained a cult following for its unique and Instagrammable packaging. Each Glossier product comes in a pink bubble wrap pouch with stickers and a personalized message from the company. This unboxing experience is highly shareable on social media, and creates a sense of excitement and anticipation around the product.

By creating a unique unboxing experience, Glossier is able to create a memorable and emotional connection with customers, and generate buzz and excitement around their brand. This is a great way to leverage duration neglect in marketing and advertising, as customers are likely to remember the unique and exciting unboxing experience even after they have used up the product.

There are several cognitive biases that are similar to duration neglect in that they can impact our perception of experiences and memories

Peak-end rule: This bias suggests that people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak and at its end, rather than the duration of the experience. This means that even if an experience is mostly unpleasant, if it ends on a positive note, people may remember it more positively.

Recency bias: This bias occurs when people place greater importance on recent events or information, rather than events that occurred in the more distant past. This can impact our memories and perceptions of experiences, as well as our decision-making.

Negativity bias: This bias refers to the tendency for negative events and information to have a greater impact on our thoughts and emotions than positive events and information. This can impact our memories of experiences, as negative moments may stand out more in our minds than positive moments.


“The Psychology of Experience: How to Create Powerful Brand Moments” by McKinsey & Company – https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/the-psychology-of-experience-how-to-create-powerful-brand-moments

“Peak-End Rule: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices” by The Hustle – https://thehustle.co/peak-end-rule-psychology-decision-making/

“The Science of Negativity Bias and How to Overcome It” by Psychology Today – https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-babble/201301/the-science-negativity-bias-and-how-overcome-it

“How to Leverage Recency Bias to Boost Your Marketing” by Outbrain – https://www.outbrain.com/blog/how-to-leverage-recency-bias-to-boost-your-marketing/

“Duration Neglect and the Importance of the Last Experience” by UX Collective – https://uxdesign.cc/duration-neglect-and-the-importance-of-the-last-experience-5de3601a60a7

“Why Brands Are Embracing Nostalgia Marketing” by Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2019/03/22/why-brands-are-embracing-nostalgia-marketing/?sh=2e4f6fa2111c

“The Power of Mystery in Marketing” by Hubspot – https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/power-of-mystery-in-marketing