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Turn Health Club Use into Habits with the ‘Hook Model’

Credit: Lenny Gonzalez PhotographyIt was a quest to discover why some products and services fly while others flop that led business theorist and IHRSA 2016 keynote speaker Nir Eyal to develop the “Hook Model”—a four-step process that encourages desired customer behaviors. In an interview in the January issue of Club Business International, Eyal explains how health club operators can use the Hook Model to increase member usage.

The Hook Model consists of four steps:

  1. Trigger: “Triggers are cues to action, the spark plug in the engine, if you will,” Eyal told CBI. “They suggest what we should do next, and come in both internal and external forms. A pang of hunger, for instance, prompts us to snack; an e-mail alert prompts us to open the message; a glance in the mirror may prompt us to embark on a diet.”
  2. Action: “The Action is the behavior we engage in to obtain the desired reward: we snack, we read, we diet.”
  3. Variable Reward: “The Variable Reward is the result that provides physical, intellectual, psychological, or emotional satisfaction: a feeling of satiety, of being well informed, of looking slimmer,” he said. “The Variable part of this Hook is important in that people crave variety; they want their next experience to be new, bigger, better.”
  4. Investment: “Investment refers to things a user does to increase the likelihood that they’ll take the same Action again. For instance, clicking “reply all” ensures further e-mailing.”

“For those who are hooked on health clubs, the Hook is in full effect—using the gym becomes a habit, and the more a member invests in their gains, the more committed they become,” Eyal said.

To better understand how to increase member engagement and turn clients’ use of the club into a habit, health club operators should look at fitness crazes from the past and present—from Jazzercise, to CrossFit, to Soul Cycle—to see the Hooks they employ.

“The internal Trigger could, on the negative side, be guilt, or, on the positive, the anticipation of a rewarding workout,” Eyal said. “The Action is to go to the gym. The Reward is the variability of the exercise routine and the social connections that accrue. And the Investment is the results of your workout, and the camaraderie, that bring you back again.” 

Nir Eyal’s IHRSA 2016 presentation is sponsored by MYZONE. Read the full Q&A with Nir Eyal in the January issue of Club Business International.

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