The Set List: Gamification
Sinead Wallace in Brand Design, The Set List, brand strategy

Photo by Luke Porter, Unsplash.

Editor’s note: this blog is part of a series discussing trends and insights into the world around us.

The growth in gaming culture has created consumers who are willing to play for rewards. From jewellers developing ring stacking apps to brands substituting typical marketing email chains for virtual treasure hunts consumers can use to discover discounts, gamification is allowing brands to rack up the hours of engagement they get from consumers. And who says games are only for kids? On average, 43 percent of mobile gamers across 10 markets are parents, according to a Facebook IQ study.

Putting the fun back into shopping

When it comes to completing transactions, how do consumers know if they are making the right decision? The creation of brand experiences or games that allow consumers to play with a product, test it and visualise the end result, gives shoppers more confidence in purchasing, increasing the odds of conversion. In most cases, gamification plays on people’s natural desires for competition and creativity and often incorporates the use of rewards to drive action. In 2016, Facebook IQ found that $36.9 billion was generated from mobile gaming. According to this study, 68 percent of mobile games being discovered by users were through social networking platforms, with a defined shift in popularity to gaming on smartphones over all other devices shown by 71 percent of gamers surveyed.

Capitalising on this behavior, brands from a multitude of industries have started to develop their own initiatives. With 87 percent of Millennials using more than two tech devices a day, many retailers have started to use mobile gamification as an ever-growing tool to help attract tech-savvy young customers back to the physical store and engage with them. Bringing these activations in-store and using them to direct consumers into selling spaces has been the focus for retailers such as Ted Baker with their ‘Mission Impeccable’ interactive shop windows. Their campaign was supported by a shoppable secret agent-themed mini movie, produced by British film director Guy Ritchie. Geo-fencing location technology and Google App’s Voice Search tool were used to marry the digital experience to its physical stores. Consumers who activated the tool on their smartphones could speak coded phrases displayed in windows of selected stores to win prizes and vouchers.

Providing consumers reassurance and facilitating their decision making in-store was a key consideration when IKEA launched their VR Kitchen Experience. The tech allowed consumers to experience their custom-built kitchens before purchase using VR headsets. The theory behind it being that a consumer who has personalised and built their kitchen from the ground up using VR is much less likely to be struck by a sudden case of buyer’s remorse. On a simpler, yet effective note, oil giant Shell created their ‘Pump Challenge’ based on the recognition that when refueling, many people like to try to get the final amount to a nice round number—if you manage to land on a round number, they’ll give you a bonus number of loyalty points.

Is Gamification the Future of Engagement?

Gamification clearly has a strong future. The constant expansion of social media, smarter mobile devices and precision GPS means the opportunities for brand engagement will become endless. With consumer values shifting from purchasing physical objects to valuing experiences and attaining knowledge, retailers will need to step up their game (literally!), to increase the amount of time a consumer interacts with a brand, both online and offline.

Using branded games to redirect players to physical venues will be key, merging the virtual with the physical. Mobile games and geolocation facilities have the added benefit of being able to link players directly to nearby physical retail locations. The use of VR and AR technologies seems to be turning towards escapism and fantasy, enhancing the consumer experience from feeling like they’re playing games to feeling like they’re living in a game—transporting shoppers into another world without ever having to leave the store.

Sinead Wallace is a versatile designer with an appreciation for brand identity. Experienced in Retail projects ranging from large-scale developments to pop ups and brand launches, she has worked with high-end and high street brands both in the U.K. and abroad. She believes in the importance of storytelling within a space, the customer experience and their journey, understanding the bigger picture as well as the details. Contact her at
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