The power of streaks: How apps like Snapchat and Wordle keep users hooked

The power of streaks: How apps like Snapchat and Wordle keep users hooked

September 19, 20231 min read

There's a reason why kids and adults alike become hooked on apps like Snapchat and Wordle: The irresistible pull of the streak.

There's also a reason why so many apps are successful in hooking users: According to recent research co-authored by Jackie Silverman, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Delaware, the streak is as important as the app or activity itself.

In her collection of studies, "On or Off Track: How (Broken) Streaks Affect Consumer Decisions," published in April in the Journal of Consumer Research, Silverman found that:

  • Companies now can track consumers' behaviors on their platforms, and in turn tell consumers about their past behaviors. I study how one apparent pattern shown through such tracking - a streak, or 3+ consecutive behaviors - affects consumer decisions.
  • Highlighting streaks can create a new source of motivation; people are more likely to continue a behavior when they are told they have a streak, versus not. On the flip side, highlighted broken streaks are especially demotivating and decrease engagement in the behavior.
  • These effects occur because consumers have a goal of keeping their streaks (as highlighted on these platforms) alive.
  • To help mitigate the negative effects of broken streaks, companies can de-emphasize broken streaks or allow for consumers to do an action to repair their streaks.

To quickly arrange an interview to speak with Silverman, simply click on the "contact" button on her profile.

Connect with:
  • Jackie Silverman
    Jackie Silverman Assistant Professor, Marketing

    Prof. Silverman's research examines several facets of judgment and decision making and consumer psychology.

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