These 4 Companies Want to Feed Your Addiction

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Companies work hard to get you in the door, but the wooing doesn't stop once you hand over your money. Companies work really hard to get you to come back again and again. You could even say that companies want to get you addicted to their products and services. Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX), Alphabet's (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), and Chipotle (NYSE: CMG) are examples of brands that want to create and feed an addiction.

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Starbucks wants to fill your cup

It doesn't hurt Starbucks' business that it is selling an addictive substance. But there are many places you can get your morning coffee or iced beverage, as this cup-of-joe company knows. And that's why it's important to know that Starbucks' mission is more about creating a welcoming environment than selling coffee. In the company's words, it aims to "inspire and nurture the human spirit -- one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time." 

Starbucks gets customers to come back by creating a great experience in the store. A friendly greeting, the cashier writing your name on your cup, an employee remembering a regular's order. It's all part of giving customers a feeling of being welcomed. The company has a loyalty program that gives customers a free drink after $62.50 in purchases. Users of the Starbucks app can easily find a location, order digitally, and skip the line. The app also allows personalized marketing based on what you've bought. With same-store sales slipping in recent quarters, look for the company to double down on ways to get you to be a repeat customer. It's even shut down its online store as part of bring people back into its locations.

Google started with simple

Google was not the first web search company, but it emerged as the market-share leader by making search easier and more valuable for its users. Many noticed Google was different from day one, when the company's search screen was neat and clean, with a single box in the middle of the screen to type in search text. This was in stark contrast to most other search company screens at the time, which were filled with all sorts of links and other distractions.

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Google's focus on the user experience with search has been paramount to its growth, but the company has expanded its reach with a set of products that integrate really well. For example, when I search in Google Maps, it shows the hotel where I have an upcoming reservation based on an email found in my Gmail. Add to that that the company is constantly learning from the data provided by its 1 billion active users, and it's no wonder that people come back to Google. It's almost addicting.

Amazon makes it easy

Amazon's 20-year-plus history, from starting as an online bookstore to becoming the first place you go for online shopping, has been fueled by its obsession with the customer. The company has constantly been improving the customer experience with innovations such as customer reviews, one-click ordering, and two-day Prime delivery. These features are all commonplace (and expected) now, but when they were introduced, they were revolutionary for the online ordering experience.

I admit that I'm addicted to Amazon because of the time it saves me: I can search on my laptop or phone for an item I want, quickly compare prices and features, and place the order in less time than it would take me to find my keys and walk to my car.

Lastly, the reliable Prime delivery experience of two-day (or quicker) shipping keeps customers coming back. Amazon is estimated to have grown its Prime membership base 38% over last year, and these members spend twice as much on Amazon.com as non-Prime members.

Chipotle wants you back

Chipotle invented the concept now known as "fast-casual": great food, served quickly, at a reasonable price. For most of the company's history, it could do no wrong. Often, people would wait in lines out the door to get a burrito. But that all stopped thanks to a rash of foodborne illnesses in 2015. The company's reputation was tarnished, customers left, and the company still hasn't gotten back to sales levels from before the incidents.

Chipotle desperately wants its customers to come back, and is pushing for that on a number of fronts. The company is spending significant amounts on marketing, tried a temporary loyalty program, improved its digital capabilities, and introduced queso. Chipotle is trying hard to get people to remember how addictive its food can be.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Brian Withers owns shares of Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Starbucks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.