Sunday Reads: Habits & Shoes

How to Manufacture Desire: An Intro to Hooks by Nir Eyal

Here’s the gist:

  • The degree to which a company can utilize habit-forming technologies will increasingly decide which products and services succeed or fail.
  • Habit-forming technology creates associations with “internal triggers” which cue users without the need for marketing, messaging or other external stimuli.
  • Creating associations with internal triggers comes from building the four components of a “Hook” — a trigger, action, variable reward, and investment.
  • Consumers must understand how habit-forming technology works to prevent unwanted manipulation while still enjoying the benefits of these innovations.
  • Companies must understand the mechanics of habit-formation to increase engagement with their products and services and ultimately help users create beneficial routines.
“If it can’t be used for evil, it’s not a super power.”
— Anonymous

He [anonymous] is right. And under this definition, habit design is indeed a super power. If used for good, habits can enhance people’s lives with entertaining and even healthful routines. If used to exploit, habits can turn into wasteful addictions.

This trinity of access, data, and speed creates new opportunities for habit-forming technologies to hook users. Companies need to know how to harness the power of Hooks to improve peoples’ lives, while consumers need to understand the mechanics of behavior engineering to protect themselves from unwanted manipulation.


Shoes that don’t fit (and free salt) by Seth Goden

A beautiful pair of shoes, but one size too small, on sale and everything…. Not worth buying, not for you, not at any price. Because shoes that don’t fit aren’t a bargain.

And at a restaurant, you may have noticed that there’s no extra charge for salt. You can have as much salt as you want on your food, for free. (Of course, it’s not really free, it’s part of the cost of the meal, so we paid for it, so we might as well get our money’s worth, might as well use a lot.) Of course, that’s silly, because regardless of how much we were billed for the salt, no matter how unlimited our access to it is, using more is merely going to ruin our meal. Too much salt isn’t a bargain.

Buffets (like life, organizations, projects, art…) aren’t actually, “all you can eat.” They’re, “all you care to eat.” Which is something else entirely. Just because you can have it doesn’t mean you want it. Just because we paid for it doesn’t mean we should use all of it.


Will Podcast ‘Golden Age’ Unlock Brand Advertising Budgets? by AdAge

Podcasts are enjoying a moment in the sun thanks to the success of “Serial,” which delves into a 1999 murder in Baltimore.

“Creatively, we are entering a new golden age,” said Matthew Lieber, co-founder of the podcasting startup Gimlet Media. “In terms of the golden age of the business,” he added, “we’re just getting started.”

But advertisers remain wary of podcasts for a couple of additional reasons:

  1. The first is the size of the audience. Podcasts simply don’t attract the large audiences that advertisers chase, although podcast proponents note that listeners are more deeply engaged with the content — and the ads — than drive-by visitors to websites, traditional radio or TV.
  2. An even more serious setback, however, is the medium’s lack of data. Podcasting offers few, if any, sophisticated ad-targeting capabilities.

Quotes of the Week

“I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.”
— Neil Armstrong