Tech Companies Hook Users to Compete in Crowded Markets

Tech companies fighting for market share are focused on making their products and services so pleasurable that they become the stuff of compulsive habits in their customers.

The tech marketplace has become oversaturated to the point where thousands of companies competing for public attention are constantly trying to innovate new tactics for separating themselves from the pack. According to this piece by Ted Greenwald in MIT Technology Review, the latest hot trend is the marriage of marketing and science in such a way that the use of certain products and services leads to the subconscious formation of repeatable behaviors. Call it habit-forming technology, and keep an eye out because it's coming for you.


Greenwald's piece begins with coverage of the testing phase of a new website feature at Expedia. Electrodes adhered to a subject's face relay positive and negative responses to images on the site. Expedia's researchers collect data that will eventually contribute to a modification of the travel-planning experience. The aim is to ignite the customer's sense of wonder, to trigger the release of dopamine in their brains. Expedia's researchers want their customers to form a compulsive habit. They want to get them addicted to Expedia, or at least make it so they subconsciously grow accustomed to using Expedia and only Expedia when planning a trip: 

"The company aims to make the experience of shopping so pleasurable that using the site becomes a habit. Forging new habits has become an obsession among technology companies. In an age when commercial competition is only a click away, the new mandate is to make products and services that generate compulsive behavior: in essence, to get users hooked on a squirt of dopamine to the brain’s reward center to ensure that they’ll come back."

Greenwald's piece delves deeply into this emerging tech trend. You can learn more about it at MIT Tech Review.

As for habit-forming in general, in the video below, Big Think expert Gretchen Rubin explains the pathology behind repeated behavior:


Photo credit: Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
  • In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
  • The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less