Retailers use gamification to drive engagement

Discussion
Jun 04, 2015

Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of an article from Retail Dive, an e-newsletter and website providing a 60-second bird’s eye view of the latest retail news and trends

As any adult who has downloaded Candy Crush or Angry Birds can attest, gaming isn’t just for kids anymore. As many retailers can tell you, gamification strategies are a great way to get people to engage with your brand more holistically.

For those unfamiliar, gamification uses elements of play and common game mechanics such as points, badges and other incentives in nontraditional contexts in order to affect behavior. Done right, gamification is a subtle but fun way to get people engaged.

Among the efforts:

  • GameStop recently introduced a desktop "Monster Hunt" promotion in partnership with Google Maps and Warner Brothers Interactive. The promo invited players to register at GameStop.com to hunt monsters on city streets around the world to win one of 100 $50 gift cards.
  • Bonobos has been hiding models dressed in its khakis on partner sites and awarding the first 50 people to find the images each day with a $25 credit and free shipping.
  • L Brands’ Pink Nation, a subsidiary of Victoria’s Secret, offers in-app games such as Pink-O to deliver exclusives, prizes and other incentives. Last year during spring break season, Pink added an in-app scavenger hunt to target its college-aged core customers.
  • The Home Shopping Network (HSN) — a believer in gamification since its HSN Arcade helped the company register more than 700,000 shoppers — added an in-app slot-machine game, Spin to Win, in 2013 to target young, affluent shoppers with discounts and prizes.

GameStop Witcher

Source: GameStop

Gamification helps make apps "sticky," getting users to spend longer periods of time with an app and encouraging them to return again and again. Making achievements visible on social media also helps bring out the competitive spirit in like-minded shoppers.

Not only can gamification drive one-time and repeat actions, it can also offer insights into customer preferences that can help retail marketers target customers better via mobile and other channels.

The Pink Nation app, for instance, features another game that asks shoppers to choose whether they "want" or "need" items included in the day’s showcase products, asking users to make a Tinder-style swipe left or right to register interest. The result? Better curated content.

What do you think of gamification as a way to engage customers, drive call to actions and gain customer insights? Have you noticed any innovative gamification efforts by retailers?

Braintrust
"Smart retailers that can integrate gamification with mobile, in-store and even at-home have a fabulous opportunity to win over consumers by putting the fun back into shopping and taking the mindset away from coupons and discounts."
"I am not a big believer in gamification for shopping. I don’t want points or badges, I want deals — NOW — and to find what I am looking for. I want to walk out of a store as a successful shopper. The essence of games is that they require an unproductive time investment. That is exactly what most shoppers want to minimize!"
"The gamification movement came into the spotlight in marketing circles as if it was a new movement, or at the least, an extension of the gaming craze. What we have learned since is that aspects of gamification are fundamental to our customer marketing efforts."

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8 Comments on "Retailers use gamification to drive engagement"

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Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

These are all great examples of gamification working well and going beyond ordinary gamification techniques. The simple implementations of game mechanics like badges and leader boards have faded and any retailers going through the motions with basics like that are better off keeping their money in their pockets — it won’t get them anything.

Smart retailers that can integrate gamification with mobile, in-store and even at-home have a fabulous opportunity to win over consumers by putting the fun back into shopping and taking the mindset away from coupons and discounts.

Joel Rubinson
BrainTrust

I am not a big believer in gamification for shopping. I don’t want points or badges, I want deals — NOW — and to find what I am looking for. I want to walk out of a store as a successful shopper. The essence of games is that they require an unproductive time investment. That is exactly what most shoppers want to minimize!

Tom Redd
Guest

Perfect for those Millennials and Boomers with enough time to search the web and win stuff. Another great marketing tool that wastes peoples’ time but increases clicks. More time for mobile phone addicts to keep their necks bent.

If it takes games to win customers, you are NOT going after the right markets at the right time.

Great trend we can laugh at in a few years.

Off to the grocery store to search for a hidden treasure chest …

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

Plus: Gamification can increase the involvement (OK, “stickiness”) on shoppers on sites they are already interested in.

Minus: Like so many other implementations of “digital” — gamification will only have a significant impact with current shoppers. I am not going to start visiting the Sephora site because of a game. And my wife isn’t going to start frequenting Rockler and Woodworkers Guild of America either.

We are just digitizing what already exists.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

Gamification can certainly make customer interactions stickier, but the tactic is only as useful as its perceived value for its intended audience. The question is whether gamification tactics are more interesting and beneficial for the agencies that convince their clients to invest in these efforts or the intended audience.

Gamification is just one element of a broader initiative. It can definitely enhance call-to-action responses and gain more customer insights. These are only valuable if these responses and insights are used to provide those participants with valued responses and insights from the brands. The concept of a brand’s ability and responsibility to provide loyalty to its customers plays a relevant role in this discussion.

Gamification will amplify its value if it is one element in a broader closed-loop customer communication ecosystem.

Walter Matthews
Guest
Walter Matthews
2 years 4 months ago

The excerpt only scratches the surface of possibilities. Many people get stuck on the “game” in gamification. It’s an ongoing challenge to educate people about game-based mechanics use in motivating consumers and affecting their everyday behavior. The military, Boy Scouts and other organizations use badges and other visible symbols of achievement. Corporations provide various financial incentives and titles to motivate employee behavior.

The simple fact is that gamification is already woven into our lives. Retailers and advertisers who combine gamification with “big data” can create a fun and engaging experience for consumers. No secrets here, the examples in the excerpt are just additional proof to what’s already been proven. People want an enjoyable, engaging experience, along with prizes, coupons and discounts.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Gaming will work for certain categories and certain consumers but the concepts behind gaming are something to consider.

Have you ever heard of the inner city brand Villa? It is geared toward sneaker heads. They have taken a very cool approach of co-branding the design of unique sneakers and selling out.

But—they hold back some reserve and months later will have these scavenger hunts to win a pair of the treasured sneakers. This has evolved into teams that even go from city to city to participate in the hunts.

What else has happened because of this? When they roll out a new sneaker, they get lines out the door and around the block—buying at full price!

Go figure! For my 2 cents.

Bill Hanifin
BrainTrust

The gamification movement came into the spotlight in marketing circles as if it was a new movement, or at the least, an extension of the gaming craze.

What we have learned since is that aspects of gamification are fundamental to our customer marketing efforts. Customers are humans and as such, we humans share intrinsic desire for growth, competition, belonging, achievement and more.

Gamification programs will continue to be relevant in business to business settings and channel programs. For consumer loyalty, we need to invoke the concepts and incorporate into our overall strategic planning.

Maybe we should add behavioral psychologists to our marketing staffs?

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Smart retailers that can integrate gamification with mobile, in-store and even at-home have a fabulous opportunity to win over consumers by putting the fun back into shopping and taking the mindset away from coupons and discounts."
"I am not a big believer in gamification for shopping. I don’t want points or badges, I want deals — NOW — and to find what I am looking for. I want to walk out of a store as a successful shopper. The essence of games is that they require an unproductive time investment. That is exactly what most shoppers want to minimize!"
"The gamification movement came into the spotlight in marketing circles as if it was a new movement, or at the least, an extension of the gaming craze. What we have learned since is that aspects of gamification are fundamental to our customer marketing efforts."

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