Gamification Taking Loyalty to the Next Level

09.18.2017  /  Kurt Allen

Consumers’ average attention spans have shrunk to eight seconds, according to a report issued by Microsoft last year. As a result, keeping them engaged has become increasingly difficult. 

For some brands, gamification has emerged as a productive tactic. Although the approach has been in practice for years, the new wave of brand-based gaming builds on learnings from previous campaigns. By combining cumulative experience with new platforms and technology, gamification has reached the next level.

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 multilevel 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.
  • Eyeglasses brand Warby Parker created a physics-based matching game tied to the launch of limited-edition frames.

Brands continue to look deeper into consumer data to enhance their gamification strategies, leading to more intuitive designs and more responsive interfaces.

Social media continues to drive gamification; indeed, social gamification can 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. A recent report from eMarketer indicated that more than 30 million consumers rely on mobile alone to make their online connection.

As technology evolves, gamification may become an option for brands that may not have million-dollar development and promotions budgets. Dallas-based startup CataBoom has launched a platform that aims to develop instant loyalty by rewarding specific consumer behaviors. The firm’s proprietary product offers the ability to create online reward campaigns in as little as seven minutes.

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. Strike the right balance between challenging and gratifying to encourage repeat visits. To gain customer engagement, it simply must be a good, fun game.

As evidenced by the recent launches by major brands, gamification can be effective. The ability to access even more specific customer data, the continuing development of technology and the spread of mobile online access means gamification will continue to develop and expand as a major tool for brand growth.