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How to build habit forming products?

Are you curious about how companies manage to get you hooked on their products? Look no further than "Hooked," a fascinating book by Nir Eyal that delves into the science of habit-forming products.

Hooked by Nir Eyal

Using anecdotes and scientific studies, Eyal explains how products become integrated into our daily routines, making them the Holy Grail for any consumer-oriented company. But don't worry, it's not all about manipulating consumers. "Hooked" also explores the ethical implications of creating habit-forming products, helping businesses avoid becoming glorified drug dealers.

If you're a business owner or product designer, this book is a must-read. Eyal provides concrete advice on how to create habit-forming products that can boost sales and drive success. And for anyone curious about why we're all so addicted to our smartphones and social media, "Hooked" offers a fascinating glimpse into the psychological processes that make these products so irresistible.

So whether you're looking to improve your business or simply want to understand why you can't stop scrolling through Instagram, "Hooked" is the perfect read for anyone interested in the science of habit formation. Get ready to learn how to get people hooked on your products - in a good way!

Insight 1: It is difficult to replace existing habits.

Have you ever tried to quit a bad habit or adopt a new one, only to find yourself falling back into old patterns within a matter of days? You're not alone. It turns out that habits are incredibly hard to break, even when we're motivated to make a change.

Our brains are wired to create habits in order to save time and effort. Once a habit is formed, it's difficult to replace because our brains have already established the neural pathways needed to perform the behavior automatically.

So how can you successfully adopt a new habit? The key is repetition. By engaging in the new behavior frequently, you can train your brain to make it a habit. This is why products that become part of our daily routine, like social media or online shopping, are so successful.

Habit-forming products have several advantages for businesses. They create long-term customers who are less likely to switch to a competitor. They also inspire loyalty, with customers eager to tell their friends and family about the product. And because habits are hard to break, customers are less likely to be deterred by price increases.

So the next time you're trying to quit a bad habit or adopt a new one, remember that it's not just about willpower. By repeating the behavior frequently, you can train your brain to make it a habit. And if you're a business looking to succeed, consider how you can create habit-forming products that will keep your customers coming back for more.

Insight 2: Habit forming goes through a 4 stage process.

The first step of the Hook Model is the trigger. This is the external event that initiates the user's interaction with the product. Triggers can be of two types: external or internal. External triggers are things like ads, emails, or notifications that remind us to use a product. Internal triggers, on the other hand, are emotional states, such as boredom or anxiety, that lead us to seek out a product as a way of coping with these emotions.

The second step of the Hook Model is the action. This is the behavior that the user takes in response to the trigger. It's important that the action be as easy and frictionless as possible. The more difficult the action is, the less likely the user is to take it. For example, if the action is to sign up for a new service, it should be a quick and easy process.

The third step of the Hook Model is the reward. This is the benefit that the user receives from using the product. Rewards can be of different types, such as emotional, social, or functional. Emotional rewards make us feel good, social rewards make us feel accepted and connected to others, and functional rewards help us to accomplish our goals. Whatever the reward, it needs to be meaningful and satisfying enough to keep the user coming back.

The final step of the Hook Model is the investment. This is something of value that the user puts into the product, such as time, money, or data. Investments serve to strengthen the user's commitment to the product and make it more difficult for them to switch to a competitor. For example, if a user has invested a lot of time and effort into building a profile on a social network, they will be less likely to switch to a different network that requires them to start over from scratch.

The Hook Model is a powerful framework for understanding how habits are formed around products. By designing products that follow the four steps of the model, companies can create products that are more engaging, more addictive, and more profitable. However, it's important to use this power responsibly and ethically, and to be mindful of the impact that habit-forming products can have on users' lives.

Insight 3: Habits always require an external trigger.

Think about the last time you tried out a new app or website. What motivated you to give it a chance? Chances are, you were prompted by an external trigger - a friend's recommendation, an online advertisement, or maybe even a pop-up notification.

The truth is, products don't become habits overnight. It takes a deliberate effort to build a routine around a product, and it all starts with an external trigger. This trigger can be anything from a catchy tagline to a friend's suggestion, but its purpose is always the same: to get you to try the product for the first time.

For example, consider the rise of social media. When Facebook was first launched, it wasn't the behemoth it is today. In fact, it was only available to a select group of college students. But as those early adopters began to invite their friends to join, the external trigger for the rest of the world was set in motion. Before long, Facebook had become a habit for millions of people.

Of course, not all triggers are created equal. A good trigger must be simple, clear, and easy to follow. If it's too complicated or confusing, users are likely to abandon the product before they've even had a chance to try it. So the next time you're designing a product or campaign, remember the power of a well-placed trigger. It could be the difference between a fleeting fad and a lasting habit.

Insight 4: Understanding internal triggers.

Imagine waking up feeling groggy and unfocused. You know you have a lot of work to do, but you just can’t seem to motivate yourself. Then, you remember your morning cup of coffee. You get up and make yourself a steaming hot mug of the good stuff, and suddenly, you feel more alert and ready to tackle the day.

What just happened? Well, you experienced an internal trigger. Your grogginess was the pain you were trying to avoid, and the coffee was the solution that brought you pleasure. By making this connection in your mind, you developed an internal trigger for using coffee as a solution to feeling unfocused.

This is why coffee has become a staple in many people’s daily routines. They’ve developed a habit around using it as a solution to their grogginess or lack of focus. The same goes for many other products we use on a daily basis, like smartphones, social media, and even certain foods.

Once a product has become a solution to our problems, we start feeling the impulse to use it more and more often. And before we know it, we’re hooked. But don’t worry, not all habits are bad! In fact, developing good habits around products that bring us pleasure or help us avoid pain can improve our lives in many ways.

Insight 5: In order for a product to become a habit for users, companies need to focus on increasing the three preconditions of behavior - trigger, motivation, and ability.

Have you ever found yourself scrolling endlessly through social media, or checking your email every five minutes, even when you know there probably won't be anything new? You're not alone - these behaviors are often the result of habit-forming products.

But how do companies create products that people use so often, they become habits? The answer lies in understanding the three preconditions of behavior - trigger, motivation, and ability.

First, a trigger is necessary to prompt action. This could be an external cue, like a notification on your phone, or an internal cue, like feeling bored. However, triggers alone are not enough.

Motivation and ability are also important factors. Users must be motivated to take action and believe that using the product will lead to desired outcomes. This could be pleasure, avoidance of pain, or social acceptance, among other things.

Additionally, users must have the ability to use the product. If the product is too complicated or difficult to use, even with a trigger and motivation, the user is unlikely to take action. This is why companies should focus on making their products as easy-to-use as possible.

So, if companies want to create habit-forming products, they must focus on increasing all three preconditions of behavior. This could mean simplifying the product, creating effective triggers, and designing for user motivation. With these factors in mind, companies can create products that users will use over and over again, until they become habits.

Insight 6: Variable Rewards.

While it's important for a product to reliably deliver on its promises, this alone is not enough to keep users engaged in the long term. Instead, companies must use a mix of different kinds of rewards that are unpredictable and variable.

Studies have shown that our anticipation for rewards actually causes a stronger emotional reaction than receiving the reward itself. When the expected reward is predictable, we don't get as excited about it as quickly as we do when the reward is unpredictable. This is why products like social media platforms and slot machines use variable rewards to keep us coming back for more.

These rewards can come in many forms, from social recognition like getting "likes" on Facebook, to gaining resources like winning on a slot machine, or even delivering personal satisfaction like completing a difficult level in a game. However, it's important that the reward always relates to the user's initial motivation for using the product.

Insight 7: Investment.

Have you ever found yourself going back to the same product or service again and again? Maybe it's your favorite coffee shop or a particular brand of shoes that you always buy. You might wonder why you keep choosing the same thing when there are so many options out there.

According to the Hook model, the answer lies in investment. When we invest something, whether it's time, money, or effort, into a product or service, we are more likely to form a habit around it. This is because we value things more highly when we feel we have put something into them.

But it's not just about valuing the product itself. We also tend to be consistent in our behavior and adjust our world-view to suit it. So if we use a product frequently, we are likely to keep using it in the future, and we might even change our preferences to depend on it.

This is why companies often try to get users to invest in their products, whether it's by offering rewards or encouraging them to create content. Once users feel invested, they are more likely to form a habit around the product and become hooked. So the next time you find yourself going back to the same thing over and over again, think about the investment you've made and how it might have influenced your behavior.

Insight 8: Creating hooking products responsibly.

The Hook model, which involves triggering an action and providing a reward to create a habit, is a powerful tool for businesses looking to create a successful product. However, it’s important to consider whether a product should even be habit-forming in the first place. Life insurance policies, for example, don’t require users to build a habit around them.

If you do decide to create a habit-forming product, it’s essential to understand your customers and their needs. By providing a solution to their problem often enough, users can build a habit out of using the product. This requires careful analysis of the triggers and rewards that will motivate users to engage with the product repeatedly.

But with great power comes great responsibility. Companies must ensure that their products enhance users’ lives and that they themselves would use the product. Weight Watchers is an example of a company that has used habit-forming techniques to help their customers lose weight and improve their health, which is generally considered a positive outcome.

Ultimately, it’s up to every entrepreneur and product designer to create products that are ethical, responsible, and provide real value to their customers. By using the Hook model effectively and considering the moral implications of their product, businesses can create successful products that truly enhance users’ lives.

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