Providing variable rewards is the secret of habit-forming products, reports The Economist (1/3/15). “That is why the number of monsters one has to vanquish in order to reach the next level in a game often varies.”
This is nothing new: “BF Skinner
, the father of ‘radical behaviorism
‘ … found that training subjects by rewarding them in variable, unpredictable ways works best.” However, the concept figures more prominently than ever in the digital age and the “intense competition … to monopolize people’s attention.”
Unexpected delights or unpredictable rewards provide a more authentic way to reinforce loyalty than traditional and tired “when you buy X, we provide Y.” They also disproportionately lead to greater referral in our experience. Of course, it requires a more personalized form of communications.