Gamification – How to Take Marketing in Retail to the Next Level

Gamification is a marketing tool that provides interactive solutions in the form of gamified experiences.  The target is to create engaging marketing campaigns which excite customers and makes them curious  about a brand or a product. It enables businesses to stand out and differentiate themselves from their  competitors.  

The added value for businesses and customers is straightforward: Instead of getting marketing  information through static advertisements, that nowadays often go unnoticed, gamification offers an  immersive experience that doesn’t feel like marketing to the customer, but instead has the effect of  engaging them and creating a feeling of reward when they play for a prize.  

Gamification can be used in every industry. However, many struggle to imagine how it can be a helpful  tool in a traditionally offline-business model of a retailer. To help with this issue, this article will give  you insights into how gamification can help retailers to improve their marketing efforts. 

What is Gamification?  

Per definition, gamification describes the process of incorporating interactive game-design elements  and principles into a traditionally non-game context (Gamify, 2021). ‘Gamifying’ describes the process  of how traditionally static advertisements, whether placed offline or online, are replaced by an  interactive experience, usually in the form of an online game.  

What makes gamification effective is the fact that it addresses two natural human motivations, namely  competition, and curiosity (Lehtinen, n.d.). By creating an engaging interactive game in which  customers can measure themselves with other players, for example via a leaderboard, and can win a  prize, both of these motivators can be catered to. 

Examples of some well-known games used for gamification are the ‘Spin-The-Wheels’, ‘Personality  Quizzes’, and online ‘Scratch Cards’. In all these games it is oftentimes possible for participants to win  prizes or discounts when the game is completed. 

Gamification actively involves the customer who is made to participate in a marketing advertisement  without knowing it. This automatically leads to a higher awareness of the marketed content, be it the  brand itself or specific products.  

According to a market report by Research and Markets (2021), gamification can raise engagement and  loyalty by an average of 30%. Moreover, by incorporating gamification into the marketing mix,  additional touchpoints are created. This allows you to learn more about your customers and collect  valuable data they leave by engaging in gamified experiences. 

Gamification in the Retail Industry  

Gamification is effective in every industry, whether in online gambling, tourism, e-commerce, or  more traditional sectors such as banking and insurance. Even retail and FMCG are industries in  which online gamification is an effective solution to increase customer engagement and drive  sales.

Due to the retail sector being known for its traditional, offline-operating business model, many  people struggle to think of a connection between the retail industry and online gamified marketing  campaigns. However, according to Högberg et al. (2019) gamification has the potential to positively  affect customers’ engagement, purchase behaviour, the general attitude toward a retailer, and the  retention rate of customers. 

To provide some insights about how gamification can be used in the retail business, in this article  some insights into common challenges in this industry are provided, namely: 

  • Increasing footfall and basket size 
  • Improving the customer experience 
  • Driving signups for customer loyalty programs & Increase App downloads 
  • Making use of seasonal events and special editions 
  • Including partners in marketing campaigns 

Increase Footfall and Basket Size 

To sell more, a retailer has two options: First, having more people to sell to, so increase the number of  customers, i.e. the ‘footfall’; Second, increase the number of products customers buy on average, i.e.  increase the ‘basket size’. Gamification can help achieve these goals, by creating interactive marketing  campaigns that capture the attention of customers and bring them into the stores. A gamified  experience perfectly suited for this challenge is a ‘Spin-the-Wheel’ game. In this game, discounts for  in-store purchases, or product prizes can be won. By winning a game before being rewarded with a  prize, a customer is more inclined to redeem the prize as he or she feels lucky and wants to make use  of that ‘earned’ prize.  

To further leverage this, a second gamified campaign giving out instant prizes could then be promoted  in the store to increase the basket size of a customer. To achieve this, prizes that represent  complementary goods must be used. Some nice examples of such products are pasta sauces, salad  sauces, tacos, or seasoning as these products are usually only consumed with additional products.  

An additional incentive could be provided to the customer by suggesting different recipes that could  be made out of the won product which again, pushes the customer to buy all the ingredients needed for the meal, therefore effectively increasing the basket size. 

Improving the Customer Experience  

Because gamification is engaging, it makes perfect sense that by using it in marketing, the overall  customer experience is improved. This is because fun games are engaging, and depending on the game,  various goals can be achieved. Apart from simply creating awareness for a product or brand, it is also  possible to transfer knowledge or tips on how to use certain products by setting up a gamified quiz  that reveals special specifications.  

Gamification offers a seamless connection of offline and online marketing by placing QR codes, that  lead customers to the online game, in physical stores. The QR code can be easily accessed via a  customer’s phone which makes the customer experience straightforward. 

Gamified campaigns can not only be integrated via QR codes in-store but can also be printed on  magazines or leaflets. They can be placed on a retailer’s website, its social media channels, or its App,  and lastly, can be promoted in a newsletter. By promoting the gamified campaign across all the  mentioned outlets, an omnichannel approach can be achieved which creates multiple customer  touchpoints. According to Lemon and Verhoef (2016), multiple touchpoints are important when  considering a positive customer experience that is connected to a customer’s purchase journey. 

Driving Signups for Customer Loyalty Programs & Increase App Downloads

Nowadays most retail chains have customer loyalty programs, whether in the form of customer or  club cards or Apps. To stand out, however, retailers must be able to provide an added benefit  beyond the usual 10% discount or weekly sales to win new customers who sign up for yet another  loyalty program. Once again, gamification can help out.  

The key to increasing the signups for the loyalty program lies in the detail that only members can  engage in the gamified games. So when the QR code is scanned, ask customers to either log into their  accounts or sign up for one. If your main goal is to drive App downloads, make sure that a customer  can play the game first, but to receive the prize then has to download the App. That way, a customer  is more likely to do so, as he or she wants to redeem their prize.  

In providing fun games in which prizes or discount codes can be won, customers are entertained, will  voluntarily engage with the marketing content you put out, and will visit stores more often to  discover newly released games and redeem their prizes.  

By incorporating personalized notifications customer loyalty can further be strengthened as  customized offerings always perform better than generic ones. 

Making use of Seasonal Events and Special Editions 

For every retailer, yearly seasonal events offer the perfect opportunity to market special seasonal  products, for example, chocolate bunnies during easter, BBQ products during summer, all kinds of  sweets for Halloween, and of course, all the Christmas-related products during December.  

While every retailer leverages special events, and it, therefore, gets increasingly difficult to win over  customers, the way that you market your product assortment can provide you with the needed  competitive advantage. By creating a gamified marketing campaign, the increased attention on  seasonal events can be successfully leveraged by providing a fun and interactive way to engage with  your company.  

Creating yearly advent calendars is just one of the many possibilities for how gamification can be used.  Other examples could be an Easter egg hunt game, a quiz about the top summer holiday destinations,  or a personality quiz that determines what Halloween costume type you are. For all these games it is  possible to give out prizes, whether in the form of discount codes or product prizes, to improve  engagement rates once again. increase footfall to your stores to redeem prizes.

Including Partners in Marketing Campaigns 

When talking about retail, it is obvious that partners are involved in providing a wide range of different  products. Therefore, it makes only sense to include partners in your marketing efforts. In doing so,  win-win situations can be created, as by highlighting your stores and the product assortment, a  partner’s brand and products will automatically gain visibility too.  

Gamification allows you to seamlessly connect your partner and your business by creating a branded  campaign that lets your partners stand out. In return, partners could provide prizes that can be won,  for example in a gamified “Spin-the-Wheel” campaign or a quiz about the brand itself. 

The Bottom Line 

As established, gamification can be used in every industry, even in offline industries such as retail.  Gamified marketing campaigns effectively involve the consumer by offering an immersive experience  instead of a static advertisement. Not only is the response better, but it can also be tracked which  allows businesses to determine important success factors and trends. Businesses are then better able  to adapt their marketing efforts accordingly to ensure demands of their main target groups are met. 

There are many different gamification possibilities to be explored and businesses can make use of a  variety of options to achieve different goals, such as lead generation and nurturing, increasing basket  size, improving customer loyalty, or including partners in marketing campaigns. As can be seen,  gamification really is the key to taking marketing efforts nowadays to the next level.