Approach and steps for businesses to create habit-forming products
Habit-forming Products – an Introduction
What prompts us to automatically check our phones every few minutes? Why do we long for that tiny notification beep that has us reaching out to our screens in excitement? How did the act of skimming through our notifications list become the first thing we do in the morning? Think you’re getting hooked on to something? Well, that’s the general intention.
Habit-forming products are products that influence/manipulate a person into using them from time to time until it becomes a part of their daily routine. Several companies have employed this behavioural product psychology to engrave their brands or products into the users’ minds through persistent reminders and alerts.
Still a bit unclear on what these products actually are? Let’s look at a few examples,
The “like” button on Facebook and the heart icon on Instagram, motivates users to regularly check their phones to view the visibility and popularity of their posts.
The “seasonal sales” that pop up in commercial websites even when there is no specific season, capture the users’ attention and they end up spending hours on it perusing “for-sale” items.
Gaming websites that lets the user buy virtual trinkets using the virtual points received through extended hours of play.
Fitness apps that motivates users with virtual rewards and medals for hitting the daily goal.
Sounds familiar? This is just the tip of the iceberg.
How does a business benefit from creating habit-forming products?
Converting a product into a habit eventually gains user loyalty.
Through routine usage, the company will no longer need to resort to expensive advertising.
How do companies create habit-forming products?
Nir Eyal, author of the best-seller “Hooked- How to build habit-forming products” introduces us to the “Hook model” which sheds light on the four key processes involved in building a habit-forming product.
Phase 1: Trigger
It always starts out with triggers such as emails, app notifications or links alerting the user to check out the interesting information. Triggers can be external which happens in the form of paid advertisements and social media alerts; or internal, which can result from loneliness or boredom. Triggers are manufactured in such as way that it eventually leads to a call-to-action.
For example, Jane logs into Pinterest and comes across an image of a wedding dress in her newsfeed. Being recently engaged, she had been on the lookout for trending designs in wedding dresses. This image sets off the trigger by catching her eye and piquing interest.
Phase 2: Action
Action is the subsequent activity that follows a trigger, and is solely dependent on the users’ levels of motivation and the easy accessibility of the action.
Now Jane, motivated by the image, is prompted to click on the link, which leads her to the page where the image was originally posted.
Phase 3: Reward
Reward is what actually reels in a user from just being intrigued into wanting more. Companies create rewards or hooks that lure users into spending more time and money on their websites. Users feel a surreal sense of anticipation at the prospect of being rewarded with more ideas and offers.
Jane, having entered the page, is now hooked by the several wedding dress images that show up along with various other wedding-related ideas. Before she knows it, she is clicking image after image thereby prolonging her use of the website.
Phase 4: Investment
Once hooked, users invest their time by routinely returning to the website; money by making a purchase through the website; information by providing personal preferences that will help the website serve them better; and referrals by recommending the product to others.
Now Jane, having rewarded with several ideas and options, pins these images to her wall and subscribes to several other handles for future references. Eventually this website becomes her go-to place, should she hit a roadblock in planning her wedding.
Companies that create such products are constantly manufacturing similar products, nudging the user to keep returning to their platform until it becomes a new norm.
How do Habit-forming products become a bane to a company?
As much as companies benefit from creating such products for hooking others, there is a definite probability of getting hooked ourselves. It is important to draw the line between getting hooked and being addicted to habit-forming products. The hidden dark side of habit-forming products reveals itself only when it serves as a distraction in our daily lives. It is time to unplug from such products if,
Constant interruptions distract us from focusing on the job.
It keeps us from reaching our goals.
It takes away our desire to socially interact with one another.
What can be done to not let habit-forming products become a distraction?
Not all companies follow the ethical route when manufacturing these products. It is entirely in the users’ hands to decide if they want the product to enhance or restrain their cognition. Learn to control the charms of habit-forming products by,
Identifying and limiting the external triggers that instantly distract us.
Planning our calendars well ahead with constructive activities that will reroute our focus back to work.
De-cluttering our screens by removing items that will leach away our time and attention.
Habit-forming products, while serving as a stepping stone to success and popularity on a business perspective, can also serve as a hindrance to achieving one’s personal goals. Technology, with its alluring gizmos and gadgets, need to be put in its place, should it deviate from improving to ensnaring one’s intellect.