with Nir Eyal

Love what you’re seeing?

This is just a small sample! There are hundreds
of videos, in-depth courses, and content to
grow a startup fast. Let us show you!

Now Playing


Turning a vitamin into a painkiller with triggers

Nir Eyal

Expert Where Behavior, Business & The Brain Meet

Lessons Learned

To create a magical user experience, couple internal and external triggers as closely as you can.

Everything you build should flow from the moment your user experiences the trigger.

The most habit-forming products start as vitamins,but they become painkillers through repetition.


Lesson: Hooked with Nir Eyal

Step #3 Trigger: Turning a vitamin into a painkiller with triggers

When is the user feeling this internal trigger? When do they experience this internal trigger that you want to attach an association onto? When is the time in their life that they think, “I feel this emotion,” or, “I take part of this routine and I’m looking for a solution at that moment?”

And by being there, by closely coupling the external trigger, whatever that might be, that tells the user, “Hey, here’s the solution to your problem at the right point in time,” that’s how we create messages that are magical as opposed to just spamming and annoying, is closely coupling the external trigger with the internal trigger. Because if we just create a product and we put it out there into the world and say, “Hey, use it sometime, whenever,” users don’t know when to place us in their lives.

We have to know when the user would use this product. The time, place, the whole shebang, we know exactly when in their life they would use this and we do this. One technique is by understanding the user narrative so that we can send appropriately timed messages. So we can send external triggers that bring the user to the product when they’re mostly likely to feel that internal trigger.

Because if you can’t tell me a moment in time, location, time, the whole thing about where the user is when they feel this need to use this product, you’re not going to be able to build off of that. Everything flows from that moment in time when I would want to use the product. All the features, everything you build flows from that narrative.

Facebook has obviously, unquestionably done a phenomenal job. I mean, I can’t argue with one in eight people on the face of the Earth. That’s pretty amazing. Very habit-forming product. I think you can look at more recent examples like WhatsApp, if you need a justification for the power habit. I’ll give you 19 billion reasons why habits matter. The acquisition price of WhatsApp.

And part of the reason that company was acquired for that sum of money was the fact that it’s a highly habit-forming product—74% of people who have installed that app use it every single day. It’s a very powerful product in terms of its habit-forming potential.

And there are some good old reliable products that, I think, can be very habit-forming like email. Email has a great hook built into it, which is one of the reasons that it’s one of the first things that people check when they wake up in the morning and one of the last things they do before they go to bed. It has these basic elements of the hook built into it.

When I was exploring what I wanted to do next after my last company was acquired, I was reading a lot about this difference between vitamin products versus pain killer products. And kind of the common knowledge is that you want to build painkillers, that we want to solve for a need the customer can articulate, “Stop my pain.”

That’s the kind of product we want build for, is these painkiller products. They have quantifiable markets that are eminently monetizable. That’s what we’re looking for, the customer that’s screaming for a solution.

Vitamins, on the other hand, are these products that are nice-to-haves. They’re not must-haves. You don’t know if that vitamin you’re taking every morning is actually doing something. It’s not about efficacy. It’s about emotion and it feels good thinking that we’re doing something for our bodies every day.

So, investors will ding you if they think your product is a vitamin, as a nice-to-have. But the surprising insight that I had was that when you think about some of the most habit-forming technologies that we use every day—think of Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and WhatsApp and Snapchat¬¬—are these vitamins, or are they painkillers?

And I think, when you think about them, is that they’re actually both, that they started out as vitamins. Nobody woke up at two in the morning and screamed, “I need to update my status!” before Facebook existed. That never happened. They didn’t know they needed that solution. But what we find was that through repetitive use, by making these products something that becomes part of their day-to-day routines, they became painkillers. They became something that users kind of couldn’t live without, became part of their day-to-day routines.

Copyright © 2024 Startups.com LLC. All rights reserved.