Book Summary: Hooked


Key Points

  • Habits are one way the brain learns complex behavior
  • habit forming products increase Customer Life Time Value (CLTV)
  • Customers of habit forming products are relatively price insensitive
  • Viral cycle time –
    • time it takes for user to invite another user
    • higher user engagement levels – more visits per day > grow faster than competitors
  • Older Habits are more resilient than New Habits  – LIFO
  • Habit potential
    • Frequency
    • Perceived utility
  • Vitamins versus Painkiller
    • Habit formed over time could transform a vitamin into a pain killer
    • Habit forming technologies are both vitamins and painkillers
  • Types of Product Creators
    • Peddler
    • Facilitator
    • Dealer
    • Entertainer

The model


  • habits are built upon
  • External triggers
    • put yourself in their shoes to understand the task they want accomplished
  • Internal Triggers
    • 5 whys – till arriving finally at a basic emotion


  • increasing motivation is expensive
  • reducing effort is easier
  • must be easier than thinking
  • identify desire and use technology to take out steps


  • Seeking pleasure and avoiding pain
  • Seeking hope and avoiding fear
  • Seeking social acceptance and avoiding social rejection


Subjected to users current situational context

  • Money
  • Physical effort
  • Brain cycles
  • Social deviance
  • Non-routiness


  • implicit choice of doing things the old way
  • a new more convenient way to do things

Variable Reward

  • Tribe – who it comes from
  • Hunt – material outcome of action
  • Self – perception of self mastery


  • Reciprocation – humans treat machines like humans too
  • Escalation of commitment
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • leads to improvement of service for the specific user which increases the likelihood of  users returning
    • content
    • data
    • followers
    • reputation
    • skill

Habit Testing

  • Identify
    • who are the product’s habitual users?
    • Based on frequency of use
  •  Codify
    • make sure at least 5 percent of users will find your product valuable enough to use as much as you predict they would
    • Habit Path: a series of similar actions shared by your most loyal users
      • codify they steps they go through
        • where they come from
        • decisions they make when registering
        • sift through data for similarities
  • Modify
    • identify ways to nudge new users down the same Habit Path taken by devotees
    • Cohort tracking

Enabling Technologies

  • Technology wave
    • Infrastructure – when technology makes an existing behavior easier
    • applications built on top of infrastructure – causes more people to exhibit behavior
    • subsides – the next technology wave starts forming
  • Look for Nascent Behavior
    • discover apps occupying the first screens on mobile devices

Further Readings

  • Just Enough Research, Erika Hall
  • Something Really New: Three Simple Steps to creating truly innovative products, Denis Hauptly
  • Evil by Design, Chris Nodder

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