Drive your customers crazy, reward the hunt.

Early humans killed animals using a technique known as “persistence hunting,” where they would chase their prey down to exhaustion, a practice still common among today’s few remaining pre-agrarian societies. Reward the hunt for your customers.

The pursuit itself is motivation during the chase; this same mental hardwiring also…

Provides clues into the source of our insatiable desires today. The dogged determination that kept hunters chasing their prey is the same mechanism that keeps us wanting and buying. Although it is a long way from prehistoric hunter to people in business, the mental process of the hunt remains mostly the same. – Reward the hunt.

Where we once hunted for food, today we hunt for other things. The drive to conquer obstacles, even if just for the satisfaction of doing so lives within us. Pursuing a task to completion can influence people to continue all sorts of behaviours. Surprisingly, we also seek these rewards when we don’t outwardly appear to enjoy them. Puzzles offer no prize other than the satisfaction of completion, for some the painstaking search for the right piece can be an incredible mesmerizing struggle.

Manufacturing Desire


Triggers come in two types: external and internal. When a product or service is tightly coupled with a thought, an emotion, or a pre-existing habit, it creates an “internal trigger.” Unlike external triggers, which are sensory stimuli, like a phone ringing or an ad online telling us to “click here now!” you can’t see, touch, or hear internal triggers. Internal triggers manifest automatically in the mind.

A useful trigger for a small behaviour can lead people to perform harder behaviours.

The 1st trigger for your mobile app is to ask your customers to join.


After the trigger, come the intended action. To increase the odds of a user taking the intended action, the behaviour designer makes the action as easy as possible, while simultaneously boosting the user’s motivation. Increasing one’s action increases the likelihood of a habit-forming.

Once she’s done the intended action (in this case, installs your app), she’s dazzled by what she sees next. Your app is already there with a welcome reward. By encouraging your customers to pay through the app to collect points, reinforces the habit of using your app and keeps your variable rewards front of mind.

Reward the Hunt

Variable Reward

Variable schedules of reward are one of the most powerful tools that companies use to hook users. Research shows that levels of dopamine surge when the brain is expecting a reward. Introducing variability multiplies the effect, creating a frenzied hunting state, activating the parts associated with wanting and desire.

In the 1950’s B.F. Skinner observed that lab mice responded most voraciously to random rewards. The mice would press a lever, and sometimes they’d get a small treat, other times an enormous treat, and other times nothing at all. Unlike the mice that received the same treat every time, the mice that received variable rewards seemed to press the lever compulsively.

In your mobile app, there are several variable rewards including spending money. The points earned are a variable reward because everytime you spend the points earned are different (Points increasing). The point increase creates more variable rewards by getting your customer closer to achieving the next badge/tier/level or reward. There are up to six variable rewards once your customer reaches a milestone set by you as well. Reward the hunt, so your customers keep coming back.


Now the user is invested in you, and the hunt is on. The investment comes in the form of asking the user to give some combination of time, data, effort, social capital or money. The investment implies an action that improves the service for the next go-around.

Your customer has invested time to download your app, and now they get to redeem a welcome reward and pay to get points. If the investment was fun or satisfying, then the process continues.

In Conclusion

Fundamentally, variable reward systems must satisfy users’ needs while leaving them wanting to re-engage. If used for good, habits can enhance people’s lives with entertaining and even healthful routines. If used to exploit, habits can turn into wasteful addictions.

The concepts and ideas that are written above primarily come from the book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.