5 March 2012

How to manufacture desire

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Nir Eyal continues his article series on Techcrunch (see also “Habits are the new viral“) with a short essay on manufacturing desire.

“Companies increasingly find that their economic value is a function of the strength of the habits they create. But as some companies are just waking up to this new reality, others are already cashing in. […]

But how do companies create the internal triggers needed to form habits? The answer: they manufacture desire. While fans of Mad Men are familiar with how the ad industry once created consumer desire during Madison Avenue’s golden era, those days are long gone. A multi-screen world, with ad-wary consumers and a lack of ROI metrics, has rendered Don Draper’s big budget brainwashing useless to all but the biggest brands. Instead, startups manufacture desire by guiding users through a series of experiences designed to create habits. I call these experiences “desire engines,” and the more often users run through them, the more likely they are to self-trigger. […]

Like it or not, habit-forming technology is already here. The fact that we have greater access to the web through our various devices also gives companies greater access to us. As companies combine this greater access with the ability to collect and process our data at higher speeds than ever before, we’re faced with a future where everything becomes more addictive. 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 the desire engine to improve peoples’ lives, while consumers need to understand the mechanics of behavior engineering to protect themselves from manipulation.”

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