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Hooked

How to Build Habit-Forming Products

By Nir Eyal
18-minute read
Audio available
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Hooked (2014) explains, through anecdotes and scientific studies, how and why we integrate certain products into our daily routines, and why such products are the Holy Grail for any consumer-oriented company. Hooked gives concrete advice on how companies can make their products habit-forming, while simultaneously exploring the moral issues that entails.

  • Anyone who wants to understand how habits are formed
  • Anyone who wants to design a hugely successful product or enhance an existing one
  • Anyone who wants to understand how some products take advantage of our tendency to form habits

Nir Eyal is a writer, teacher and consultant who has long advised start-ups and other businesses on designing successful products. He is the founder of two start-ups, both of which have since been acquired, and he contributes regularly to magazines like Forbes, TechCrunch and Psychology Today.

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Hooked

How to Build Habit-Forming Products

By Nir Eyal
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
Synopsis

Hooked (2014) explains, through anecdotes and scientific studies, how and why we integrate certain products into our daily routines, and why such products are the Holy Grail for any consumer-oriented company. Hooked gives concrete advice on how companies can make their products habit-forming, while simultaneously exploring the moral issues that entails.

Key idea 1 of 11

It’s difficult to change or replace established habits.

Every New Year’s eve, people make resolutions to quit drinking, eat more healthily or get more exercise. When midnight strikes, we really are fully committed to making these changes.

So why is it that on January fifth most of us find ourselves sitting on the couch munching chips and guzzling beer?

Well, the short answer is that it’s due to our habits: activities we’ve become so accustomed to doing that we engage in them without much conscious thought.

Habits emerge because our brain is eager to save time, so in most situations it will make us do whatever it was that worked last. For example, a habit of biting your nails when nervous probably emerged because your brain remembers that nail-biting once helped you release stress, so now you do it unconsciously.

The trouble with habits is, it’s very difficult to permanently change them. In fact, research has shown that even if we change our routines, the neural pathways of the old habit remain intact in our brains and are very easily reactivated. This is illustrated by the fact that two thirds of alcoholics who finish a detox program start drinking again within a year.

No wonder we have such trouble with a simple New Year’s resolution. So how can you possibly succeed in adopting a new habit?

The easiest way is to repeat it frequently. One study showed that students who wanted to get into the habit of flossing their teeth regularly were more successful the more frequently they engaged in flossing.

If it can’t be repeated often, the new habit has to be very useful to still be adopted successfully. Consider online retailer Amazon: Most people don’t use Amazon everyday, but shopping there still constitutes a habit for many of us, despite countless other online stores to choose from.

Why?

Amazon’s direct  price comparison between other retailers is so handy, that users make a habit out of shopping there even if it is only infrequently.

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