Marketers are fascinated by why some products or services achieve massive popularity while others are swiftly forgotten. Historically, the same charm that once glued people to their TV screens now compels us to frequently check our smartphones.

Nir Eyal, the author of the bestseller "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products," illustrates how the most engaging products follow a strategy called "the Hooked Model." With his background in both technology and psychology, Eyal has developed this model based on thorough research and a deep understanding of user behavior.

The purpose of this framework is to help tech companies create products that resonate deeply with users’ emotions and daily lives, becoming engaging and habit-forming without relying on expensive advertising campaigns. The Hooked Model incorporates principles from behavioral economics, psychology, and user experience design to provide a systematic approach to crafting appealing products.

This model emphasizes nurturing voluntary, regular engagement that develops into a vital consumer habit, prompting users to keep coming back even without promotional nudges.

Adopting the Hooked Model yields several significant advantages:

  • Developing a habit-forming product guarantees ongoing user engagement, which is vital for its market success and longevity.
  • Products that follow this model rely less on traditional advertising and more on organic growth through word-of-mouth and user endorsements.
  • These products enhance user engagement, increase customer lifetime value, and boost revenue.
  • Making the product a part of users’ daily routines can be a significant competitive edge.
  • Frequent interactions with users generate valuable data that can be used to improve the product, customize the user experience, and guide data-driven decisions for future developments.
  • Habituation to a product creates a sense of psychological ownership, which increases loyalty and encourages users to promote the product to others.
  • This strategy offers a significant advantage in penetrating market clutter, capturing and maintaining customer interest.

The Hooked Model comprises 4 main phases:

  1. Trigger
  2. Action
  3. Variable Reward
  4. Investment


Let’s now talk about the details of the initial two phases.


A Trigger is a prompt that motivates a user to start using a product and can be categorized as either external or internal. External triggers are clear signals from the product itself, like emails, notifications, links, or the app icons on a mobile device, which initiate habit-forming activities. These triggers direct the user on the next steps to take, drawing them in from the outside.

As users repeatedly interact with these external triggers, especially in conjunction with specific emotional states, these triggers evolve into internal triggers. Internal triggers are driven by the user's own emotions and thoughts, leading to nearly automatic usage of the product. These triggers are often connected to negative emotions such as boredom, loneliness, frustration, or stress, which the user tries to alleviate by using the product.

Triggers work best when they seamlessly integrate into the user's everyday life, making the initiation of the desired behavior feel natural and effortless. The goal is for internal triggers to predominate, making the use of the product a natural and habitual response to certain feelings or situations.


The Action phase involves the user carrying out a simple action in expectation of a reward. The model advocates for simplifying this action to enhance the likelihood of its performance. This phase leverages the basic human inclination to pursue pleasure and avoid pain, capitalizing on the user's motivation to act. It is founded on the principle that the simpler it is to perform an action, the more likely a user will carry it out.

Interested in learning more about the phases of the Hooked Model? You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Hooked Model here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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