From LinkedIn to Starbucks: The Zeigarnik Effect in Action

Jay M
October 1, 2023

Recently, I was watching a series called Hijack on Apple TV. I thought the case was solved, but the plot thickens! Now I'm hooked for another episode. I thought I'd watch just one episode, but that twist sent me down the rabbit hole. And the next minute, I was binge-watching the whole season.

I'm sure we all felt this way. Occasionally, a movie trailer comes your way on YouTube, leaving you wanting to learn more about the film. This effect is called the Zeigarnik Effect.

It's a psychological principle named after Bluma Zeigarnik, a psychologist. It says that people remember uncompleted tasks better than completed ones. Our brain treats an unfinished task as a "mental itch" that needs to be "scratched" or finished.

You must be thinking, it's all great, but how does it improve the bottom line and business outcomes? Grab your popcorn; we are going to uncover this fully.

Let me show you how your favourite brands use this to their advantage, and you can use it, too.

LinkedIn screenshot when you create new account

We all have LinkedIn accounts. Do you know how they use it? Check this LinkedIn account screenshot. This is what appears when you create a new account. Can you spot how they have used the Zeigarnik Effect coupled smartly with another UX principle?

the Zeigarnik Effect in play

Let's look at another example, Zoomcar. I was planning a trip with my pet. I spent hours looking for the right car that fits my budget, location and comfort. If you look at the screenshot below, I'm at the final stage of completing the booking, and I ended up churning here.

But this would have helped me realise my efforts and the probability of booking would increase by 70%. This 'Zeigarnik' progress bar (shown in below image) can have a massive impact on conversions and revenues.

Countless brands use similar strategies to improve their bottom line and boost their retention rate. Some of the use cases include:

Customer Retention

Imagine a loyalty program that's "almost complete." Your customers are more likely to return to finish what they started, thanks to the Zeigarnik Effect. Starbucks does this brilliantly with their rewards program - just one more coffee, and you get a free one!

Sales Conversion

Imagine you put a shoe in your cart and forgot about it. Time-sensitive offers with a countdown clock can create a sense of urgency. The Zeigarnik Effect kicks in, making it hard for customers to resist completing the purchase.

The Zeigarnik Effect isn't just a remarkable psychological fact; it's a powerful tool for improving your marketing strategies and UX design. Implement it wisely, and watch your bottom line skyrocket.