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  • JJ Rorie

Using the Octalysis Framework to Increase Product Adoption

Episode 082

In this episode, we explore the Octalysis Framework with expert Amit Arora to understand how it drives product adoption. The conversation covers the 8 core drivers of customers: Epic Meaning, Accomplishment, Empowerment, Ownership, Social Influence, Scarcity, Unpredictability, and Avoidance. We discuss the relevance of psychological drivers and the importance of human emotions in decision-making. Amit emphasizes the framework's applicability in both B2C and B2B contexts and highlights the need for fine-tuning and continuous education. Success stories and measurement techniques are shared to illustrate its effectiveness. Overall, the conversation emphasizes staying informed and connected with customer behaviors and motivators to drive product adoption and success.



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Show Notes:


Intro 00:03

Welcome to Product voices, a podcast where we share valuable insights and useful resources to help us all be great in product management. Visit the show's website to access the resources discussed on the show, find more information on our fabulous guests or to submit your product management question to be answered on our special q&a episodes. That's all at product And be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite platform. Now, here's our host, JJ Rorie, CEO of great product management.

JJ 00:36

Hello, and welcome to product voices. So how do we increase product adoption? It's not an easy question to answer. There's a lot of dependencies, there's so much context to know right? In the end, it probably comes down to your customers motivation or their drive or, you know, what's what's making them need your product or believe that your product can add some value to them. I think finding that out may be the secret to answering that adoption question. So I'm excited about this conversation today, it's going to be really fascinating. And we're going to dive into that and specifically dive into something called the octalysis framework. And our amazing guest is going to give us lots more insights on that and how it can can help in product adoption. So Amit Arora has spent over 20 years launching products that have generated over a billion dollars in revenue, which is awesome. He's currently VP and head of product at Swiss Re he runs the Cyber Risk Insurance Group. And he's also a professor of AI and applied risk analytics at Columbia University. He's a friend of mine, I love following him learning from him. He is an all around product expert on it. Thanks for joining me.

Amit 01:45

Thank you for having me, JJ. Pleasure.

JJ 01:47

So let's just set the stage for the conversation. Some folks may not know about this, this framework and kind of what what it is and and what it can do. So just tell us what what is octalysis? And and you know, some of its history, basics of it, just kind of set the context for us.

Amit 02:06

Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, and this is a framework that was developed by a person called Yu-Kai Chou. I hope I'm pronouncing their name correctly. And the whole idea was that in order for companies to focus on product adoption, once they launch new products in the market, right, that's the next area to focus on, post the launch. What do they need to do to kind of get to the adoption curve that they want to achieve? Right. And Octalysis Framework primarily talks about focusing on the core human values or motivational values that drive adoption in the market, right? The framework is based on the premise that systems are function focused, designed to complete a task as quickly as possible, very similar to a factory process, you know, as human workers will complete that task in a timely manner, because they are required to do so. Right? Well, however, you know, when you look at our calluses, it's a very non function focused approach towards adoption, which is more of a human focus that acknowledges that people, unlike machines, and assist them have feelings, insecurities, motivations, etc. And they want to or do not want to do certain things. And therefore, if we were to kind of optimize those feelings, motivations, it would lead to a higher engagement. Now, that has been widely adopted by psychologists by consumer behavior analysts, who lend this expertise into the area of product production, and making products, you know, sell more units, make the revenues that the company expects it to make and remain competitive, you know, that respect to other things that are out there in a similar capacity. So this is a great area of differentiation. You know, and you're trying to kind of make your product successful. And I think, as I said, the fundamental differences in terms of how you go after the market, whether it's a function, focus, design, a go to market strategy versus a human design, go to market strategy. Yeah,

JJ 04:43

That's, that's fascinating. So, this, this framework, and you know, for the record, you would you would think, and hence this, this kind of philosophy and focus on this, you would think that going towards a more human motivation all type of focus and direction would be more successful than just a function focused. And of course functions come into it features come into it, the solution side of things comes into it. But, you know, focusing on those human drivers and human motivators first, I think seems to be seems to be the answer there. So, so in terms of this framework, there's, I'm assuming what's the name? autolysis. There are eight motivators or drivers that it talks about, is that is that is that correct?

Amit 05:29

That's Right. That's right, constantly evolving as well. But the original framework was, it had a, it had a octagonal shape, you know, visually speaking, with each corner, depicting a particular core drive, that you could you could apply, if you're a product manager, you could align those drives to your products. And you don't have to necessarily go after all the eight core drives that are dominated by these eight corners, you can pick and choose, you know, depends on whether you have a b2b product or a b2c product. You know, of course, those those drives, you know, would be different out of those from a choice perspective.

JJ 06:09

Yeah, that was gonna be my next question. What, uh, what do a product teams do? You know, what, what do they literally do? How do they go about the the activities of figuring out which are the drivers or motivators for their customers? What are some of the techniques that that have helped them figure out those behaviors those motivators? Those drivers?

Amit 06:31

Yeah, no, absolutely. So you don't let me briefly talk about those eight drivers. And I can maybe take a few examples to showcase you know, how different companies have led to a greater product adoption or solutions adoption by using some or all of those core drives, or drivers, right. So, you know, the first one is called Epic meaning or calling epic calling. And this core drive is in play when a person believes that he or she is doing something greater than oneself, or was chosen to take action. Right? For example, you know, if you go to Costco, you know, Costco provides free samples, right, when you enter the store, more often than not, and that leads consumers to believe that they owe something in return. Right? So it's a psychological, you know, play. And then you know, from that feeling of obligation, you end up buying something from Costco when you go there, you know, just because you ate some free samples there. There are other areas of epic, meaning and calling, you know, examples could be, you know, beginner's luck, right, for example. So, you know, sometimes you're playing a video game, or you're engaged in some activity with the product that you're using, and all of a sudden, new levels open up, right. Or you are rewarded more often as you start to adopt a new product in the early stages of the product adoption, and it becomes less and less so. But in the early stages, you feel as if you have some beginner's luck, and you're more motivated to kind of use that product more often, which is very, very, very common, and you know, all the video games that are being developed, right, or have been developed, right? The earlier levels are easier to crack, giving you that, that feeling that, hey, you're really good at it, and you're motivated to get to the next level, but then it gets a little bit harder and harder. And then at some point in time, they ask you to pay money to buy special tools and weapons and stuff, etc, to kind of, you know, meet the next level. But that's just the monetization side side of it. But I think from a epic, meaning perspective, you know, that's basically what it is the contributors do not receive any extrinsic reward, but they feel that their contribution will help develop and protect something, right, or get them to the next level. So the next core driver is about accomplishment, accomplishment. Right? Again, these are things like status points, badges, you know, progress bars, you know, crowning the aura effect. So, for example, Facebook, as a product, we think of Facebook as a product, right? Facebook provides top fan badges to people who regularly comment, like or share posts from a page, right? And those fan badges are, you know, your badge of honor, in whichever world that you live in, right? So our status points, instincts, things like that. So it helps, you know, consumers to kind of not consumers, but Facebook to kind of get the consumers to adopt Facebook. A more and more from a usage perspective. So that's the accomplishment, you know, side of things, the perception of the challenges is important. So for example, a badge or a trophy without a challenge is not meaningful for a person, right. So that's why the point system in the bad systems, progress bar quest list, you know, those kinds of things, were kind of designed to kind of cater to that level of human emotion. The third driver is all about, you know, creativity, feedback, empowerment, right. So, again, taking the example of, let's say, video games, you know, video games, unlocking later stages, or special weapons after playing or passing the previous ones, you know, makes you feel empowered, you know, so, you know, in your mind, so you have milestone unlocks, you have, I don't know, boosters, for example, you know, chain combos. So if you cross like three levels, in adoption, or in product that you're using, all of a sudden, something fantastic, will open up for you, that you that would thrill you, you know, similarly with airlines rewards programs, right? You know, after you hit certain milestones, then you get upgraded to silver than to gold, then to platinum levels, right? Each of those levels, unlocking, you know, new benefits for you. So, it's all about, you know, how do you get the consumers to spend more time or money, and money, maybe write to and kind of motivate to kind of keep, you know, being involved in that process, and then get them to some level of reward, and empowerment. The fourth driver is about owner's ownership, and, you know, possession, ownership, or whatever we call it, you know, and the simplest example would be, you know, the ability to, let's say, create avatars, for example, of yourself. You know, Apple phones, for example, let you create avatars that can be personalized. And that leads to a sense of ownership, right, the more you can personalize the product to your needs, and the way you think the way you behave, the way you perceive that you are right, and your product is a reflection of you, you know, you would be more attached to that product, right? There'll be loyalty stickiness to that product adoption, and you would not maybe switch to a competitor product after a couple of years or some point in time, even though it might be lower priced, better features, but then you have developed such a strong bond with your product, that you almost feel like it's owner in that regard. Right. So that's a very powerful emotion that companies play on from an adoption standpoint. And then you have, of course, the social influence as another driver, right, and Instagram, you know, Twitter, all all these social media companies are very strong, and using social influence, to gain net new customers, you know, make sure that the churn rates are low, you know, Instagram, you know, you know, create followers and following features when people are with more followers or, you know, ours are given a greater social influence, you know, YouTube is another example. Right. And they are conformity anchors, you know, you are thought of as an expert or a mentor, to a lot of people in your age group of, or in your demographics or whatever that you're trying to do on the social media, you know, channels and products. So, that idea of social, being able to exert social influence on a, on a large group of people is another, you know, psychological boost that consumers get, and when you're able to provide them with the powers of social influence, obviously, there's a higher level of product option, and you feel like, you know, getting to the next level, in that in that power. So, that's, that's another very strong motivator or a driver. And I think there's another very interesting driver, and this is like a personal favorite of mine, which is all about creating some artificials scarcity in terms of, you know, product availability. Right, and, you know, and you have things like the countdown timers, on limited edition, things being brought into the market, and that obviously leads to me you seen, you know, leads to higher product option, right? Those kinds of things sell out in like, you know, hours or days or whatever, right when when the window opens, you know, Candy Crush is and again, again, a great example, you know, where they have a limited time or a number of moves, generating a drive of wanting something because you can't have it kind of a thing, right. So that's a, I wouldn't say a fear of missing out kind of phenomena, it's related to that, but then, you know, appointment dynamics, you know, you kind of dangle something in front of your consumers for a limited time for a limited price. And all of a sudden, you see a spike in adoption for for those features or those products. So that's, you know, a lot of lot of companies kind of tried to do that. And this basically is around the human emotion of impatience, fear of missing out. And the core drive of wanting something simply because it's extremely rare or exclusive OR immediately unattainable, makes you kind of pursue pursue that, you know, a little bit more, even though you may not really have a big need for that product. And torture breaks is another thing, right? So what torture breaks really means is, you know, you know, you basically ask the consumers to, let's say, come back in two hours to get your rewards. So for those two hours, the consumer like impatiently waiting, a, I'm gonna go to this next level in this game, but you know, it's, it's going to unlock itself into our so I gotta wait here patiently. So that, that is a lot on your mind, right? And if you were not able, if your so two scenarios, one is there's no such torture breaks ner ner product versus there are right, so in the first scenario, without the torture breaks, obviously, there's the the motivation, and the anxiety and the excitement is kind of missing, because then it seems all too easy to achieve, right. And, you know, the humans are designed genetically in a way that if things seem to be difficult to attain or achieve, we kind of tend to give that more importance or a higher price tag, you know, artificially in our head. So those become more valued for no other reason than then just being, you know, a little bit perceived to be difficult to get kind of thing. And then, you know, unpredictability and curiosity forms the next sight of the calluses. And unpredictability is all about random rewards, for example, right easter eggs, kind of a phenomenon, you know, sudden rewards. You know, and, you know, a lot of companies, you know, provides scratchcards, which can provide rewards between range, you know, and that leads to people feeling optimistic, and keep using those products in hopes of earning those random rewards again, and again, right. So that's another way that a lot of companies kind of keep the keep the consumers engaged in that regard. And then the last, you know, side is called avoidance, loss and avoidance, basically. And loss and avoidance is one of the core drivers that motivates us to avoid something negative from happening. Right. On a small scale, it could be also to avoid losing, you know, previous work or changing one's behavior. But at a large scale, if you were to look at it, it could be to avoid admitting that everything you did up to this point was useless. Because you are now quitting, right? Again, airlines points, right? If you don't use your airlines points, by in the next two years, they will fade out, right, or they will expire, or hotel points that we earn, etc. So you're trying to kind of avoid losses, by continuing to adopt the product more and more, just for that reason, and not for any other reasons, right. It's essentially a sunk cost prison. That yeah, that you're kind of trapped your consumers in in that regard. And, you know, LinkedIn, for example, is great. In doing that, you know, you might have noticed that, you know, you sometimes get notifications about people reacting on like posts of their friends, or a list of people who have viewed your profile generating a sense of fear of missing out to use the platform kind of thing, right, so I'm in That's another great example, or a technique to kind of get people to adopt more of your product. So I think those are the eight, you know, corners, and every corner kind of obviously does not relate to each and every product that gets launched, right. But you got to pick and choose your corners, you got to pick and choose what would motivate your audience or your consumers to remain sticky and loyal to your product and continue to use it more and more.

JJ 20:30

Yeah, I love that. And thanks, thanks for that overview. So it's so interesting, as you were, as you were explaining all of it, I was thinking about some of the examples. So the airlines, for example, not only would I can imagine, not only are each of the drivers relevant to eat every product, but there there may be customers who are motivated by different things that you would you would think, right, you may, same thing, airline miles, you may be motivated by something, and I may be motivated by another driver, right? I think of myself, and the things that matter to me are getting to board first, I don't know why that matters to me, but I just I love it, you know, the idea of being a group like six, like, it gives me anxiety to know it. So I have no idea why we're all going in the same place. I'm gonna, I've got my seat, you know, I get it. But but whatever reason, I'm motivated by that, but hearing you talk about some of those others, I also think about, okay, it's, it's kind of a status, I kind of like, being first you know, and going on, and then everybody else has to, you know, go on after me, I, I hope that doesn't sound as awful as it thinking does in my head. But those are the things that I like about it without really thinking about it before. So, you know, it's interesting. And, and some of the things that that are in this, this framework, and this this philosophy make total sense. But I'm curious if you've, they seem to make perfect sense for consumer, consumer customers, you know, individual consumers, what about businesses? How have you and again, businesses are made up of people? So there are, you know, human motivators there, but how have you seen companies and product teams leverage this type of thing for business customers had it same kind of same kind of ideas? Are there some nuances that they should think about?

Amit 22:24

Yeah, so that's a great question. And I do not think then originally this, you know, framework was developed, right? It was meant for, you know, b2b segment. The idea was to kind of learn more from the, the gamification side of things. So like, you know, video games, for example, how do you how do you, you know, get, you know, consumers to stay sticky to a video game and not switch to another, so very similar game that's being launched. Right. So that's, I think that those were pretty much the reasons of the framework. And first, obviously, b2c, you know, focus, but obviously, the b2b areas, also kind of picking up some traction in that regard. Again, you know, human emotions are constant, right. As you as you rightly mentioned, there are people on both sides of two companies who are making a transaction. And I think a lot of these strategies could still be adopted, and they are being adopted, you know, whether we, you know, consciously know about it or not, but let's say for example, you know, avoidance is a, you know, a very relevant strategy, for example, if you're in the m&a space, mergers and acquisitions, right, and that's a transaction too. So, you know, big company trying to acquire a smaller leading tech company, any No, you know, if you're not able to kind of, you know, act at the right time, even though you know, the price might be a little bit too high, and you don't have enough runway for negotiation, there are other suitors that might look at the company and potentially acquire it, maybe your competitors, right. So, you know, that kind of also plays into human psychology and all those people who are making decisions are also humans, right, irrespective of the levels. So I think there's, there's that scarcity is another concept that would probably play in that area. You know, and so I would see mergers and acquisitions as one example of a b2b transaction where a lot of dialysis framework core drivers are still in play, even though they are at a business level, for example, but I can think of some other examples too, but Just wanted to see if you have any thoughts on, on on this example?

JJ 25:05

Yeah, I like that example. It makes sense. It's, I mean, again, you're buying a company, but you're you're buying the product, right? The look at a couple ways you're the product is the company, or they're also looking at the company's products, right. And so I think m&a is a good example of that. And, you know, it kind of is a, an interesting example, because it it, you can assume that, you know, lots of b2b transactions could fall fall in there, right. And I think, I mean, at least where my head is, in terms of just generally be deceived versus b2b product management, I think that the core is really finding that customer problem, and that customer motivator. And so this would apply to any of them, right, we may have to do things a little bit differently, and maybe there's a couple of extra steps, or we have to look at things slightly differently if we're talking about a business versus an individual, but at the end of the day, you know, a business is, and the people running that business and making the decisions about your product are looking to accomplish something or looking to own some part of their own, you know, process or, you know, whatever it is fear of their competitors having something that they don't, right, I mean, it's, it's, I can imagine all of these types of behaviors really kind of play into it. And it's incumbent upon us as product folks to figure it out, right? What is driving our customers who are our customers, what, what drives them, and then kind of put the right mechanisms into place around our products to, you know, leverage that that behavior, those motivators, so that that tends to make a lot of sense. And I agree with you, it seems like this was, you know, created for more consumers, but I don't think that in any way, you know, eliminates the value for b2b product teams.

Amit 27:01

Absolutely. And I've seen tons of examples in the m&a space. And also you don't really talk about the metaverse, for example, right? In this concept came around at scale a couple of years ago, right, everybody was kind of rushing or, you know, when I say everybody, I'm talking about the corporates and the enterprises, right, you have Nikes of the world, you know, paradoxes of the world, you know, the leading brands of the world, trying to get a virtual real estate on metal OS, which was another enterprise product, right. So they have like, you know, the the price is going through the roof, you know, and, you know, it was essentially driven by, you know, the intrigue, you know, obviously, social influence was part of it, that was driving it. And then, you know, what companies were really trying to do was maybe, you know, look at the avoidance side of things, you know, so what if they are not able to get, like, a prime real estate in the virtual Time Square after Metaverse, right? So if what if somebody else got there first? And, you know, so the sense of ownership fear of missing out all those factors, were driving the corporate behavior to kind of get on to the metaverse and, and, you know, flash their brands and get some level of consumer adoption in the virtual world, too. So that's maybe another example of you know, how emotions were kind of taking over, you know, pure efficiency, or, or what we call the function focus design, motivators that I was talking about earlier. So it kind of translated more to the human focused, you know, endeavors and motivations that that led to the growth of Metaverse in the in the early years.

JJ 28:53

Yeah, that's a great example. And I think it's just an important lesson for for those folks of us that work in b2b products. That, sure, you know, our customers may be very, you know, clinical and cold and the way they're, they're talking about what they need, and they need efficiency, and they need cost savings, and they need things that are very kind of systematic, but at the end of the day, they're humans, and, you know, let's dig deeper into, you know, how they're making their decisions, and what are some of those drivers for them, making decisions for their business? And I think that's an important lesson for for all of us not to, to forget and not not for us to get, you know, so, so focused on that function and feature set that, you know, we forget that decisions are made by humans, and that's an important aspect.

Amit 29:42

And there's another aspect of this as well, you know, which is, you know, how do you how do you as a product lead or a product manager, say that I've been successful and using octalysis, right, I mean, it's a very subject The topic in itself, as you can imagine, right? Yeah, you talked about human emotions human focused design. And let's say your product, you know, goes from a million dollars in revenue in year zero to, let's say, $20 million in year three, how will you attribute the use of this framework to your products? Adoption success, right. And I think the way that one can go about this, and objectifying and quantifying this framework is, you know, a method called, you know, you can actually score, you know, what you did innovate, right. So let's say you have any number between zero and 10, based on personal judgment, data or experience, right. And you square that number to get the core drive score, right. So basically, for each corner of the of the framework, you put a number between zero and then in terms of, you know, how, how valuable you think that that particular corner is, for your product adoption, you square that number, and you get a score, and then you add all the core drive scores to get a final score, right? Very simple, very easy to implement. And then you look at that score for your product versus let's say, Product B, that you might have launched as well. And then you see the product a had a higher score, using this formula versus the other product, which has a lesser score, and then you correlate that with the success or the financial success of your product. And then you are able to kind of see some relationship between a high score using this framework versus higher financial success of the product adoption. So that's one simple way to kind of look at it as well. And you know, you look at Apple Watch, for example, Apple Watch was launched in 2015, or so like, eight or nine years ago. And in five years, right, Apple sold more watches than the entire Swiss Watch Industry. Oh, my gosh, wow. Five years. And when, when I tried to kind of apply, you know, try to understand how Apple was able to make the Apple Watch such a successful product, you know, from an adoption standpoint, right. And when I look at the analysis framework, for Apple Watch, out of all the eight corners, I can easily take off at least six corners on that. So basically, they were very high on doc dialysis coach. And we need to get the financial success and the product adoption in the market that basically, you know, corroborates that fact that if you have a higher score on calluses, you're able to kind of, you know, do much better than the real markets do.

JJ 32:53

I love that. And I think it's such an important point that we have to find ways to quantify or to at least assign some level of attribution to the success to this framework, I think, to your point is, there is some subjectivity here, and that's just part of it. But the more we can, you know, make make, make it quantifiable in some way, the more that our our stakeholders are going to buy into it, and see the value in that. And so I think that leads me to my final question for you. Um, it is, how do how do you suggest people get started? Like, are there resources out there for people to learn more? Are there ways that you think, you know, have seen product managers and product teams introduce this into their organization? How would you suggest folks learn more and get started if they wanted to do this more often?

Amit 33:47

Yeah, no, I think that's a great question. And I think far, I mean, a lot of it is intuition, right, which is inherent to any good product manager, right, as a as a professional. But then if you want to go, you know, go scientifically about it, right. There are a lot of resources, you know, you have the creator of the framework, you know, UK to pull has even his own website, right, where there's tons of material available for for budding product managers to kind of go on and look at and read and understand that tons of, you know, case studies on the internet, that where companies have used this framework to kind of successfully launch not just launched, but get their products to a great level of adoption in the global markets. Right. So I think that that is a great starting point. I think in addition to that, once you're over that, you know, kind of applying some of these core drivers to, to the design framework of whichever product that you're trying to create, you know, and validating that Through, let's say AV testing, or, you know, taking the product out for a beta trial before general availability or commercial launch, and getting that feedback from, from sample or rent, you know, random customers initial, you know, sample customers, to validate which of those eight areas of the framework, you know, is resonating with real markets, I think that's, that's a great way to kind of put theory to practice, you don't have to kind of, you know, go all out with, with everything that's given in this framework, because obviously, everything will not apply to your product, right, you have to be selected, but then the way that you go about figuring out which areas, you know, apply to your product is, you know, take the product out, you know, in a limited launch, you know, capacity for for pilot projects in some narrow geographical areas, or limited demographics. And then, you know, try it out, get the feedback and see what's working, what's not working, and then, you know, fine tune accordingly. And that's probably the best way to kind of go about it, once you've learned the framework and learn, you know, how you can go about it. Yeah,

JJ 36:13

That's great advice. And so, we'll post some links out on the on how you can find out more and learn more and, and, you know, educate yourself on it. And then yeah, just great advice to, you know, try it in your organization, you know, brainstorm, think and, and roll it out in a in a small form and learn what works and doesn't and just keep iterating, just like we do on everything else in product. So awesome. Great, great advice. And I've loved this conversation. I'm at Aurora. Thank you so very much for joining me on product voices sharing your wisdom on this subject. Love to learning more from you. And thanks again for being with me.

Amit 36:53

No, thank you, JJ was a great session talking to you. And thanks for all the great questions. I hope they are helpful to the to the audiences and and the product manager, folks. So want to do a little bit more about this framework. Yeah,

JJ 37:10

Thank you. It definitely was valuable. And we will also put links how to connect with that much if you would like to on LinkedIn and elsewhere. Always a good thing to connect with these amazing guests on product voices. So thank you all again for joining us on product voices. Hope to see on the next episode.

Outro 37:27

Thank you for listening to product voices hosted by JJ Rorie. To find more information on our guests resources discussed during the episode or to submit a question for our q&a episodes, visit the show's website product And be sure


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