The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
“The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.” InvestoPress, 20 July 2017, investopress.com/the-power-of-habit-charles-duhigg.
The Power of Habit, written by Charles Duhigg, focuses on explaining how and why habits are at the core of everything we do, how we can change them, and what impact they will have on life, business, and society. He discusses not only good habits, like brushing our teeth and exercising, but also bad ones, like smoking. The book is filled with research-based findings and numerous anecdotes, making it credible and relatable. Duhigg explains that habits go beyond our conscious control. In fact, we have more unconscious habits than we do conscious ones. However, changing those habits when we know about them is within our control. Overall, this book details what habits are and how we can change them.
Chapter 2, “The Craving Brain – How to Create New Habits,” was a particularly interesting chapter. The previous chapter introduced the habit loop. Habit forming follows the following pattern: cue, routine, and reward. However, chapter 2 introduces a fourth variable, craving. A new habit is only formed if there is a craving for the reward. Habits create neurological cravings. As we associate cues with certain rewards, a subconscious craving emerges in our brain that starts the habit loop spinning. Duhigg used toothpaste (Pepsodent) to explain this theory. Instead of selling beautiful teeth, Claude Hopkins was selling a tingling sensation. This is what set Pepsodent apart from other brands. They added chemicals to create a tingling sensation in the mouth after using the product, which consumers craved. This enticed customers to repurchase the item over other brands. Similarity, Febreze’s sales skyrocketed when they rebranded. Instead of promoting “masks bad smells,” they promoted “freshens room/clean air feeling.” The company created a craving for a feeling of fresh clean air that could be sensed.
Ping, Jonathan. “The Real Pepsodent Habit Loop.” My Money Blog, 22 Mar. 2012, www.mymoneyblog.com/understanding-the-habit-loop-cue-routine-reward.html.
Chapter 5, “Starbucks and the Habit of Success – When Willpower Becomes Automatic,” was one of my favorites because of how relatable it was. Starbucks is an enormous corporation that most people have probably been to at least once in their life. This chapter discusses how Starbucks’s approach to training is through willpower. Willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success. People can get better at regulating their impulses and learn how to resist temptation. Similar to other habits, repeatedly resisting temptation can increase willpower as the brain practices a new habit loop. Starbucks uses self-discipline in its employees to achieve better service quality. For example, Travis Leach faced a lot of challenges during his upbringing. He is described as an individual who never had a decent upbringing given the fact that both his parents abused drugs. During his upbringing, he faced a lot of problems both at home, and in school. After being fired from his first job, he was later employed in Starbucks. At the age of 25, he became the president of two Starbucks, accumulating a net worth of $2 million. This proves that the use of self-discipline and willpower to train employees can create a successful company and change people’s lives for the better.
Lastly, Chapter 7, “How Target knows what you want before you do – When Companies Predict (and Manipulate) Habits,” explains how statisticians can analyze and identify patterns in data to detect specific buying patterns. Companies take advantage of consumers’ buying habits and target certain groups of people. Studying people’s patterns has increased many corporations’ abilities to make money. Companies collect data about how we regularly shop. Duhigg explained that humans prefer familiarity, and when we are doing activities like shopping, we often make choices automatically by relying on our habits. Therefore, if companies are able to figure out those habits, they can predict what we will buy. Target is guilty of this. They used data from loyalty schemes to separate their customer groups based on buying patterns to then direct specific product offers and coupons at them. For example, a pregnant woman is likely to buy an increased number of products, such as lotions, vitamins, and hand sanitizers. By analyzing the data, Target may be able to guess that this customer is pregnant and send her more offers and coupons for items that pregnant women typically need.
Chou, Yu-kai. “How Target Knows You Are Pregnant.” Yu-Kai Chou, yukaichou.com/loyalty/big-data-how-target-knows-you-are-pregnant/.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am not typically the type of person to sit down and read a book, but I actually enjoyed this book. It was an easy read and kept me engaged the entire time. I found the information to be relatable and applicable to everyday life. My favorite aspect of the book were the numerous anecdotes. I often felt like I was reading a story within a story. One downside to the book is repetitiveness. At times, I found it to drag on and explain tedious information. However, even with that said, I would still recommend this read to a friend. I have learned a lot about not only why I do the things I do, but why companies do the things they do as well. I have recognized some bad habits that I have, and I have managed to find ways to break then. I have also recognized good habits that I subconsciously have.