Hooked: Creating a Habit-Forming Product for Customers


"Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products" is a psychologically insightful look at creating "viral and addictive" products (like social media) by catering to good old-fashioned customer psychology (aka "creating a space in your customer's brain").


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Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products attempts to fix the gap between product design and marketing. Hooked is designed to help business professionals (specifically product managers and designers) create products or services that get people to return over and over again. The only thing required to cross that gap is a little consumer color psychology.

What Hooked is About

The big idea behind Hooked is the author’s answer to the question, “Why is Facebook so successful?” The key, author Nir Eyal says, is not in the technology, but in the psychology behind the use of that website. Facebook, Twitter and all of the other online activities that we repeatedly engage in daily have become part of everyday life and language.

Getting to that point where a product or service becomes a regular habit for a lot of people is a goal of almost every business on Earth. App creators want you to download their apps. Google wants you to use its search engine and Facebook wants you to post photos and content on its site. The needs of app creators, Google, and Facebook are no different than those of any other businesses. The difference is in how they can leverage billions of customers without spending a lot of money on fancy advertising or marketing campaigns. The users are there. All they have to do is create products that reach out to them.

Hooked argues that there are specific reasons behind the continued success of Google. Nir Eyal isolates some of those factors in the “Hook Model”. The “Hook Model” attempts to link four factors with the success of “addictive” products, like social media and email. These factors are based on simple psychology: classical conditioning, habit development and social reinforcement.

When launching a product, many businesses focus on trying to “wow” their customers with viral videos, spectacular content and clever advertising. While this may help, Hooked says the way to a customer’s money is a simple path through the brain. If you develop a spot in your customer’s brain, you grow in their life. From there, it’s just a matter of feeding that part of your customer’s brain to ensure continual growth.

Nir Eyal (@nireyal) is an author, speaker and investor with experience in psychology and technology. He is a successful blogger and co-founder who sold two startups, Ad Nectar and Sunshine Business Development.

What Was Best About This Book

The best part of the book is the counter-intuitive way that Eyal is able to deliver a simple message. While reading Hooked, you will find yourself saying “This is so simple! Why didn’t I think of it?” more than once. Book  is a good fit for business owners who want a simple model to reframe their product development efforts.

This simple approach is coupled with Eyal’s brilliant use of real-life examples (Quora and Mahalo, to name just two). They help demonstrate how the book’s principles work in real world.

What Could Have Been Done Differently

Hooked is a great guide to what Eyal himself calls “habit-forming product design” The only downside, which Eyal readily admits, is that the approach will not work for every business. To be specific, businesses that have infrequent engagement with customers (like insurance companies or tow truck services) may not get much from this book.

The only other issue is that the book doesn’t prescribe what you should do. It deduces what worked in an already successful business and then provides questions and recommendations for how to get started.

Why Read This Book

Hooked is a book that moves the product development conversation from “How can I create a cool product?” to “How can I create a useful product that people actually use? It provides a simple, but powerful look at your potential customer’s perspective from their psychology, rather than clicks. As anyone who has attempted a viral post knows, clicks don’t always mean sales. This book provides an easy-to-use framework (Hook Model) and several tools (Questions for a “Customer Narrative” and “Manipulation Matrix”) that break complex issues in online marketing down to simple answers that impact how readers approach product development.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.

3 Reactions
  1. Habit forming products are the best because it doesn’t only keep your users glued to your brand. It also guarantees continuous purchases.

  2. I think this is what you do when you create a brand. You create something that is so indispensable to the lifestyle of your target market that it becomes a habit.

  3. This is really an interesting topic to explore as a lot of money can be made in this form of marketing. More than mere selling, you are selling products of habit which creates a stronger need.