Do you have a habit forming product /service?

Adith Podhar
2 min readOct 4, 2018

Charles Duhigg in his book ‘The Power of Habit’ states:

Habit is a 3-step loop: First, there is a

Cue’ — a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.

Then there is the ‘Routine’ — which can be physical or mental or emotional.

Finally, there is a ‘Reward’ — which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

For eg. When a smoker sees a cue- say a pack of cigarettes, his brain starts anticipating a hit of nicotine. The craving for nicotine grows until the smoker reaches unthinkingly, for the cigarettes. In this case nicotine rush is the reward.

Companies like FB, Linkedin, Twitter, Uber and many traditional businesses have also used the above loop to create a habit for customers to use their products/services.

In the case of Amazon — ‘Cue’ is the need to buy a product (which is triggered by Amazon many times) which leads to a ‘Routine’ (opening the amazon app and buying the product) resulting in a ‘Reward’ (product getting delivered and consumed) and the loop continues.

But why are only a few companies successful in creating this habit?

Because there are attributes to habit formation.

In the case of Amazon:

Incentives of better prices, wider selection, personalization (Cue) — Superior convenience (routine) — timely & neatly packed delivery (reward). The craving for shopping is at the centre of this Habit loop which gets satisfied through the reward. This leads to Habit formation. And habits die slowly.

Let’s take the example of Zomato and Swiggy. If the Cue is ‘I want to eat ABC from XYZ restaurant at home’ then the habit/routine would be to check on Swiggy whether they deliver to your house. But if the Cue is ‘I feel like stepping out to eat’ the routine would be to check nearby places on Zomato. The craving to eat good food is at the centre of this loop in both the cases. Identification of Cues is critical for any start-up to grow. All cues should lead to the desired reward through the use of your product/service.

But remember, if the reward is not satisfying the craving to eat good food then the brain might trigger a change in routine the next time it receives the cue and a habit is not formed.

What are the ‘Cue’ -> ‘Routine’ ->’Reward’ attributes in your start-up? Have you found simple and obvious ‘Cues’ and clearly defined the ‘Rewards’?

Would love to hear from you guys !!

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Adith Podhar

Entrepreneur First | Founder - Gemba Capital | Early stage Investor | Ex PE | Amateur Photographer | Foodie | Traveler |