Gamification reaches the next level

Nov 16, 2016


Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of an article from COLLOQUY, provider of loyalty-marketing publishing, education and research since 1990.

For some brands, gamification has emerged as a productive tactic in an era when keeping customers engaged has become increasingly difficult. Though the approach has been in practice for years, the new wave of brand-based gaming builds on learnings from previous campaigns.

Recent launches by major brands demonstrate increased sophistication, investment and commitment to engaging consumers:

  • Under Armour put participants in the shoes of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for a multi-level obstacle course run through a forest.
  • Gatorade partnered with tennis star Serena Williams to give players a chance to win a Grand Slam singles title.
  • Warby Parker created a “physics-based matching game” tied to the launch of limited-edition frames.

Social media continues to drive gamification — indeed, “social gamification” could be said to be its own category. The redesign of Snapchat’s Discover channel earlier this year demonstrated how attuned to gamification these platforms have become. Social media’s adaptability to mobile technology further contributes to its widespread use by consumers.

Dallas-based startup CataBoom’s proprietary product offers the ability to create online reward campaigns in as little as seven minutes. “We’ve automated the process, right down to the legal agreements,” said CEO Todd McGee. “With more than 60 different games available, we’re able to provide the instant gratification through rewards that really speaks to consumers, particularly Millennials.”

Regardless of the size of the brand, gamification provides benefits such as:

  • Repeat visits: If it’s a positive experience, consumers will return to play and engage with the brand again.
  • Unique experiences: Brands can differentiate themselves by creating distinct experiences, which is especially appealing to Millennials, who prefer nontraditional approaches.
  • Direct connections: Gamification helps establish the one-to-one customer relationship that extends beyond a purchase and becomes more integrated with consumer lifestyles.

For brands considering gamification, what are the key elements?

  1. Know what motivates your target audiences and design the game’s prizes and rewards accordingly. Strategically structure the program to continually entice consumers with prizes they value.
  2. Leverage the breadth, depth and accessibility of social media. Consumers are already there — it’s up to the brand to make the most of the platform.
  3. To gain customer engagement, it simply has to be a good, fun game. Strike the right balance between challenging and gratifying to encourage repeat visits.


Gamification Reaches The Next Level – COLLOQUY

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are we still in the early innings in exploring how far gamification can engage and motivate consumers? What tips would you have for those attempting gamification for the first time?

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9 Comments on "Gamification reaches the next level"

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Tom Redd

We are still very, very early in this space. For the general office or business employee we have research going on in our gamification facilities. On the retail side the key is to align the gamification element with the social element — since the target audience — the trailing Millennials and Generation Z — learns almost everything via the social world.

  1. Test, test, test possible gamification routes;
  2. Target release on specific regions and review the results;
  3. Do a larger launch after tests and regional releases and make sure the glory of participating and winning has a solid social backing.
Jasmine Glasheen
Jasmine Glasheen
Principal Writer & Content Strategist, Jasmine Glasheen & Associates
3 years 2 months ago

When at play we are more easily accessible. Gamification is a relatively inexpensive way to create positive brand association amongst the Millennial-minded. Although this method of customer outreach is still relatively unexplored, it is one of the most effective ways to reach a young demographic.

Smartphone apps are a popular time killer and in-app purchases are always an option.

Tom Dougherty

Make it a GREAT game. If you want customers to engage with your brand through a game then the GAME itself must be an end result. Too often these attempts are marketing first and gaming second. That thinking is absolutely backward.

Sterling Hawkins

A great game that’s consistent with the brand. When launching a game, or integrating a gamification strategy, it becomes much more powerful if it feels authentic to the users — especially when targeting the Millennial crowd. Games for the sake of games can be found anywhere. One that extends the brand experience is key.

Dan Raftery

Since this is an early stage, those interested in gamification would be wise to look for learnings from other similar engagement activities. I’m pretty sure the initial appeal/curiosity factor is a given at this point, especially if Millennials are the target audience.

So I would focus on what might turn them off, as might be found in the experiences of social media giant Facebook, for example.
If the target audience includes an older demographic then the important learnings might revolve around getting them interested.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)

Gamification triggers a range of hormones based on discovery and reward, making it a tactic well-suited to customer engagement and imparting information. It need be complex or involve multiple platforms, and can be as simple as multiple choice questions at a point of purchase. The impact of media on the brain was the subject of a popular webinar that can be viewed online here.

Lee Kent

Gamification is one aspect of experiential design. The idea is to create “in the moment” experiences that resonate with your customer. Give the customer value through gaming rewards, convenience, personalized service and you will likely be rewarded back.

But that’s just my 2 cents.

William Hogben

I’ll have to take the contrarian opinion here and say that we’re well past the peak days of branded gamification.

It’s true that play is the most fundamental process of learning, and that brands who reach people while they play have advantages over those who don’t. But that doesn’t mean that most gamification causes people to actually play, or is a real draw for brands.

When you compete for a person’s play you are competing for their time and attention in the same category as every other thing they like. In other words, Under Armour’s game is going directly up against Steven Spielberg, Electronic Arts and an infinite number of indy developers — and it’s not going to win.

Brands should not waste money building games, they should use the money to partner with the games people already play.

Ralph Jacobson

The first key is to be relentless and stay close to social sentiment. When it goes “south,” react and adjust appropriately and immediately. I feel there’s plenty of room to grow for brands, however, there needs to be a clear objective articulated across the enterprise with defined, measurable goals.


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