Do you want customers to engage with your product more frequently? If the answer is yes then Nir Eyal’s book, Hooked: how to build habit-forming products, is the book of the moment. He proposes a four-step process that encourages consumer behaviour that sticks.

Here are six insights from the book that I found most interesting.

1. Understand your consumers’ internal triggers

For some consumers, a feeling or an emotion triggers engagement of your product. The emotion might be negative, (e.g. I feel socially disconnected), in which case your product in the ‘pain killer’, or the emotion might be positive (e.g. I feel inspired), in which case your product is the ‘vitamin’. Either way, it’s important to understand your consumers’ emotional trigger so that you can reinforce its association with your product.

2. Increase your consumers’ motivation with Fogg’s Core Motivators

What motivates your consumers? According to the psychologist Fogg, all humans have three Core Motivators that drive us: to seek pleasure and avoid pain; to seek hope and avoid fear and finally; to seek social acceptance and avoid rejection. Habit-forming products should tap into these primitive human desires to increase your consumers’ motivation to use your product. But remember, the Core Motivators will manifest themselves differently according to your particular target audience.

3. Give variable rewards

Whether it’s finding a partner or getting the best price, all products solve a problem and give their consumers a reward. However, perhaps counterintuitively, rewards should be varied to create the most pleasure for the consumer. Why? It turns out we get more pleasure from the anticipation of a reward rather than the reward itself. Therefore more variability creates more anticipation and a greater reward. Think about Facebook, would it still be as addictive if you knew that the same three people liked your photo every time you uploaded one?

4. Create rewards of the hunt 

Five hundred thousand years ago, before the invention of the spear, we used to catch animals by chasing them. To do this required heaps of stamina and a love of the chase, in fact, many scientists now believe that the pursuit of the hunt is hardwired in our brains. A good example of a company that harnesses rewards of the hunt is Pinterest. Their consumers pursue an exciting hunt for a reward (relevant content) in an endless feed of irrelevant information.

5. Maintain a sense of autonomy

Researchers found that putting the phrase, ‘but you are free to accept or refuse’, after a request for money increased donations by 100%. It’s obvious that we don’t like being told what to do. However when our right to choose is affirmed, we put down our guards and are more likely to engage.

6. Allow your consumer to invest in your product

To create a habit-forming product, you need to encourage repeated use. This can be done by asking your consumers to do a bit of ‘work’ and invest in your product. Since humans irrationally over value their own work (the IKEA effect), any investment from your consumers will result in a preference for your product.

Photo by Johan Larsson/Flickr/CC BY 2.0