Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet (the company formerly known as Google), has a quirky way of deciding which companies he likes. It’s called “The Toothbrush Test.” According to the New York Times, when Page looks at a potential company to acquire, he wants to know if the product is, like a toothbrush, “something you will use once or twice a day.”
But what if your product doesn’t pass Page’s Toothbrush Test?
Perhaps you’d like people to use your product or service frequently, but it just doesn’t make sense to do so.
There are at least two ways to build a habit around an infrequently used product: Content and Community.
Y Combinator is in the business of finding promising young tech companies and helping them become the next AirBnB or Dropbox (both Y Combinator companies).But founders don’t apply to Y Combinator frequently enough for it to be a habit.
How does the startup accelerator stay connected to the tech community? The answer is content. Hacker News, a content aggregation site owned by Y Combinator, was visited 18.6 million times in July 2016.
Y Combinator has profited from the popularity of Hacker News. Despite the fact that Hacker News is not the primary way Y Combinator makes money, the content consumption habit fills the funnel with potential applicants and has become a valuable asset in its own right.
Another way infrequently used products form a habit is by building a community. Hallmark has cultivated a thriving community around its seasonal products.
Monetization is a Result of Engagement
Companies looking to build consumer habits should remember that monetization is a result of engagement — not necessarily the other way around.
Rather than trying to make the product into a habit, infrequently used products should build habits around the product.
This article has been reproduced from a post by Nir Eyal