Unlocking the next level of consumer engagement

In 2019, over 2.4 billion consumers will play video games. The smart phone has been the key driver of these numbers, allowing consumers to easily access gaming. Brands have naturally harnessed the benefits of gaming in the retail context through gamification. Gamification is the use of game design elements in a non-gaming context and can provide a multitude of benefits to brands when used effectively.

Why is gamification effective?

Consumers can fulfil basic needs such as social interaction, novelty seeking, and personal satisfaction through gamification, which increase levels of engagement and subsequent purchases. This can be explained through self-determination theory which proposes that there are two types of motivation; extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is externally provided such as monetary rewards for completing gameplay, while intrinsic motivation is internal to the individual such as autonomy and competence. Additionally, gamification can increase the effectiveness of loyalty programs, enhancing consumer intention to participate and download an associated app. In a gamified retail context, brands should create intrinsic motivation as this encourages consumers to play the game for enjoyment, rather than extrinsic rewards that may lose effectiveness. However, extrinsic rewards may be useful for encouraging consumers to begin playing a game.

How have brands gamified the consumer experience?

A classic example of gamification in retail is the McDonald’s annual Monopoly game. Consumers receive coupons where they have a chance of instantly winning a small prize or to collect a set of coupons to win a large prize. While this uses extrinsic motivation through material rewards, the game is eagerly anticipated by consumers and is very successful, with the brand having run the promotion since the late 1980s.

Alternatively, the Nike Run Club app uses intrinsic motivation to encourage consumers to achieve their fitness goals. Through the use of goal-setting and competition such as achieving a monthly running goal and watching the running leader board, the Nike Run Club app has gamified the running experience while also deepening brand engagement with consumers through intrinsic motivation. The app also has social features allowing friends to schedule running sessions or through the connected Nike+ app that allow consumers to connect with other runners and attend branded events.