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How Do Companies Develop Habit-Forming Products?

Neuroscience, Psychology, decision making, habits, influence

This week, Stanford GSB’s Social Web Strategist Karen Lee is sharing her class notes from a Week 0 course called “How Neuroscience Influences Human Behavior,” co-taught by Marketing Professor Baba Shiv and Lecturer Nir Eyal. Each post focuses on an interesting insight from class.

In yesterday’s post, we examined why habits can be good for business and looked at how Google and Amazon successfully created user habits based on two critical factors: frequency and utility. Today I’m exploring the mechanics of how habits are formed and how companies can apply this framework to their businesses and products.

Businesses that are successful at engaging users know how to tap into the fundamental driver of habits – desire. Frequency, utility and engagement all make up the elements of desire. Nir Eyal (who co-teaches this class and graduated from the GSB in 2008) developed this virtuous cycle called the “Desire Engine,” which is comprised of 4 parts: trigger, behavior, reward and investment.

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