The Peak-End Rule: 5 Things You Need to Know

The Peak-End Rule: 5 Things You Need to Know

February 27, 2019
Annette Maggi
Communications

By Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

I’m fortunate to have my own think tank of colleagues in my local area who challenge me to think about things differently and bring new ideas to the table.  At a recent breakfast with them, we shared a fascinating discussion on the peak-end rule, which promoted today’s article.  Here are five things you need to know about the peak-end rule.

  1. The peak-end rule is based on research by Daniel Kahneman and Barbara Frederickson, indicating that human memory is rarely a perfect record of actual events. In reality, people judge an experience by it’s peak (it’s most intense point) and how it ends rather than on the total sum of the whole experience. The mind picks out the moments that most stand out, and records these as the memory of the event.
  2. This recording of an event is true whether the event is pleasant or unpleasant. Consider a shopper attending a screening at your stores and learning they have high blood cholesterol.  Or a shopper who attends your cooking class and loves the new healthy dish he makes.  Their experiences are different but it’s the peak they’ll remember.
  3. The good news is that emotional events with negative connotations can be counteracted by establishing a positive peak and end.
  4. From the aisles of the store to social media discussions to individual consults, consider how you can create a positive peak experience in all your shopper engagements. This will make shoppers more likely to return for additional services as well as to recommend your programs and services to other people.  Even if bad news is presented, such as in the screening above, providing guidance on how the consumer can make positive progress can counteract the negative peak.
  5. Positive and memorable endings can be as simple as holding a door for someone, reassuring a parent that she is doing amazing work in raising healthy kids, or offering a shopper a $5 store gift card for putting so many healthy items in their grocery cart.  A big smile and a “you got” this can ensure a customer’s memory of you is positively memorable.

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