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Why Addictive Brands Always Win

Addictive brands are bankable brands that enable the relationships they have with their fans to be proactively managed. When a brand is addictive, consumers look for new opportunities to interact and be a part of the brand. They actively seek out the brand, choosing it over others, and they continue to return time and time again to experience the rewards that particular brand provides.

Addictive brands are brands that fans have easy access to, gift on a range of levels and are uplifting and comforting in some way. These brands are the ones consumers can never get enough of. Whatever the incentive, they play to consumers’ sense of “more.” They get people excited and energized by incorporating the following strategies.

Technology Is Often The Hook

Perhaps no sector better exemplifies the power and profit of addictive brands than entertainment. Undoubtedly, you have heard of the brand Pokémon, perhaps when Pokémon Go launched in July 2016. With more than 500 million downloads globally in less than six months, it became all the rage.

Success came from the marriage of augmented reality — making the game more accessible, engaging and rewarding — to a brand that was loved by the masses. Pokémon Go complemented the brand’s existing offerings, including a trading card game, an animated TV series and a film franchise.

By pairing up with the right partner (through a licensing arrangement), the owners of Pokémon were able to capitalize on a new type of technology, supercharging the Pokémon game. From my perspective, it was this combination of Pokémon, an insatiable brand, with augmented reality that created a perfect storm to give fans more of what they already wanted, whenever they wanted it, for as long as they wanted it.

Brands must capitalize on technology advancements however they can, to maximize their own advantage. Those that don’t are at their own peril. Consider Rolodex, a loved brand that ignored technology and got stuck in the last millennium.

Let’s face it, people today use technology on a continuous basis and look for new advances to rock their world. They get excited when new technology fulfills this expectation, but they quickly lose interest or, worse, get frustrated when it doesn’t. Brands must tap into that excitement and expectation to stay relevant.

An Ecosystem Exists

Regardless of what program or brand is being considered, everything starts with the consumer. When considering what channels to expand into, it always comes back to what the consumer wants. It’s about recognizing successes and giving the consumer every opportunity to engage.

Once consumers truly connect with a brand, they are prepared to purchase over and over again for as long as they see value in doing so. The goal is to broaden and deepen their involvement. Demonstrating value to consumers when, where and how they want is the key to creating a brand ecosystem.

Pokémon created an ecosystem through multiple platforms where fans could experience the brand. Whether through the digital game, trading cards, toys, the TV series or movies, Pokémon fans are offered options for how they choose to consume the brand. They found a model that worked, listened to what consumers wanted and then made those features accessible.

When a brand pays close attention to the consumers’ desires, it creates a sturdy foundation and a profitable ecosystem primed for expansion.

The Fogg Behavior Model Is At Play

Dr. B.J. Fogg developed the Fogg Behavior Model to explain what it takes for humans to behave in a certain way. Each behavior requires motivation, ability and a trigger. Motivations can range from high to low. The ability to perform is either hard to do or it is not. And triggers either impel action or fail to do so.

In order for something to be addictive, the motivation and ability need to be aligned (there needs to be the right balance of willingness and feasibility, and there need to be sufficient triggers for people to want to take ongoing action). When this combination occurs, an action takes place. The more rewarded consumers feel by taking those actions, the more actions they will take. This becomes a virtuous cycle where consumers are likely to repeat the same action and/or respond to a similar trigger.

Based off of The Fogg Behavior Model, I believe there needs to be the right combination of frequency, intensity and access to the brand for it to become addictive. This combination gives the consumer the right balance of motivation, ability and triggers to desire the brand in multiple forms and in a continuous manner.

Curiosity Is Tapped Into

Curiosity is an innate desire and a key driver of addictiveness. Our natural curiosity and our wish to explore are linked to a trait called neoteny. Neoteny is associated with a human need to retain key characteristics from our childhood, including an insatiable appetite for wanting to know more.

While structure and routine are part of the way we organize our lives, distraction gives our brains something else to consider. People crave this type of exploration especially when combined with an enjoyable distraction — they become addicted to it. Can you think of an example of this? I certainly can.

Brands that pay attention to the psychographics and the neoteny of their fans will not only be able to capitalize on their innate curiosity but will delight them when they do so.

The addictive quality is about driving demand and revenue by providing consumers with more and more reasons to grow their interest and investments in the brand. Building an addictive brand starts by building powerful connections between the parts — hints, cues, rewards — that play on people’s curiosity and incite them to take the time to explore. It’s all about thinking through what the customer would like to see happen next with the brand and then making sure they feel as though they are a part of the brand’s journey. The process of creating an addictive brand, in turn, creates an ecosystem enabling the fan’s relationship with the brand to strengthen, driving financial growth for the brand.