Sticktion: Assessing Memory for the Customer Experience

Kathryn A. LaTour*, Lewis P. Carbone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In the quest for better service design, hospitality and service firms have often been frustrated to find that service experiences that are based on what customers say they want are not always successful. A psychological analysis of this phenomenon suggests the following premises: (1) Customers’ memory of an experience fades quickly; (2) customers’ memory of an experience comprises many sub-experiences; (3) customers’ memories of experiences are multidimensional and unintuitive; and (4) consumers cannot accurately predict what they will learn or remember. The goal of an experience design is to create a series of sub-experiences that will “stick” with the customer. This “sticktion” analysis is applied to the practical challenge of redesigning the customer experience at Pizza Hut UK. This consumer research provides a test of the four premises and an application of the underlying sticktion principles. Surveys of Pizza Hut customers found that the existing experience had its bright spots but was generally forgettable. Not only could customers not predict what they would remember about the experience, but one week after visiting the restaurant, the customers also filled in memory gaps with details that did not appear on their initial description of the visit. Even more troublesome was the fact that the invented details tended to be negative. To fill these gaps, the researchers tested specific aspects of the experience that would “stick” and included those in the new restaurant concepts. Using this approach, the chain was able to roll out new concepts that met with initial favorable results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-353
Number of pages12
JournalCornell Hospitality Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • consumer behavior
  • food and food service
  • marketing and sales
  • marketing research
  • multiunit restaurant management
  • operations
  • product development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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